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Off the beat: WWII (and post WWII)-related news in Southeast Asia

Updated On: Feb 02, 2009

By sheer coincidence, news related to history made headlines in many Southeast Asian countries.

In Manila, construction workers came across about 100 heavily corroded bombs and mortar shells (origins unknown: whether American or Japanese) from World War II in the U.S. Embassy compound, as announced by the Filipino police on 24 Jan 2009.

The shells are probably relics and a reminder of the heavy fighting that took place in Manila in 1945 in what the Filipinos call the war of liberation.

US embassy staff members were safely evacuated from the site.

The police announced that the shells will be taken to an aerial bombing range in the northern Philippines for disposal.

The U.S. Embassy spokeswoman revealed that the bombs were found in the midst of constructing the foundations for new visa and veterans' facilities at the embassy.

Meanwhile on mainland Southeast Asia, Vietnamese workers dug up more than 50 bodies, believed to be those of anti-French resistance fighters, near Hanoi’s Hell Market on 13 Jan 2009 where the government is building a road.

Some of the bodies still fitted with rusted handcuffs and leg irons. The Market was also the site of Vietnamese resistance against French forces after Japan's World War II occupation and a mass grave where French forces kept the bodies of Vietnamese resistance fighters, political prisoners and war victims.

To build a 17-storey commercial and shopping centre on the site, the market was removed and this action caused protests from many Vietnamese people from all walks of all but the approximately 300 traders were shifted to another site and their market stalls removed.

Sources:

AP, “WWII Bombs Found In US Embassy Compound In Manila” dated 24 Jan 2009 in Sin Chew Jit Poh [downloaded on 1 Feb 2009], available athttp://www.mysinchew.com/node/20523.

MSN news, “Fifty WWII bodies unearthed in Vietnam” dated 14 Jan 2009 in the MSN News website [downloaded on 1 Feb 2009], available at http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=718486.