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Police in the Philippines said they have killed 32 people in raids over 24 hours in what is believed to be the bloodiest day in the country’s war on drugs.
All those killed in the raids, which took place in the Bulacan province north of the capital Manila, were drug offence suspects who were armed and resisted, police claimed.
Tuesday’s deaths, which took place between midnight and midnight, saw 67 police operations with 109 people arrested. 21 firearms and about 100g (3.5 ounces) of methamphetamines, known as “shabu,” were seized.
It is the latest spate of violence in President Rodrigo Duterte’s attempts to wipe out the country’s drug trade.
Previously, the largest death toll had been when police killed 16 people, including a city mayor, in a raid on a southern city on 30 July.
Overall, thousands have died in his controversial campaign since it was launched in 2016, attracting international criticism. Government figures show that since Duterte took office last year, a total of 3,451 “drug personalities” have died in police action.
According to police data, over 2,000 others have been killed in drug-related crimes and thousands more murdered in unexplained circumstances.
Mr Duterte has approved extrajudicial killings in his bid to end the drugs trade.
In a strongly worded public address last month, Mr Duterte warned drug users that he would personally ensure they face the “gates of hell.”
Duterte won a landslide victory in the 2016 presidential elections by promising an unprecedented war on drugs. He remains popular in the country, despite warnings from international Human Rights Groups.
The campaign was suspended by Mr Duterte in January amid promises to “cleanse” the “corrupt” police, with Police Chief Ronald dela Rosa saying Mr Duterte “told us to clean the organisation first”.
He added: “We will cleanse our ranks… then maybe after that, we can resume our war on drugs.”
The campaign started again in March.
Yesterday, it was announced that the Philippine ministry of education also plans to introduce random mandatory drugs tests on students to prevent and determine the prevalence of drug abuse among young people.
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