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Protests at US military presence in the Philippines

Ted Aljibe / AFP - Getty Images

US embassy security guards clash with protesters during an anti-Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) rally in front of the US embassy in Manila on April 5 to coincide with start of an annual Philippines-US military exercise. Since 2002, the US has stationed hundreds of troops in Mindanao to help train local forces as they fight Islamic militants who are blamed for the country's worst terrorist attacks. About 500 US Special Forces troops train Filipino soldiers in Mindanao to combat militants from the Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group, which the United States lists as a terrorist organisation. The US troops are not allowed to take part in combat operations in the Philippines.

AP reports: Students protesting the participation of American troops in military exercises in the Philippines have smeared paint on a seal of the U.S. Embassy in Manila.

Protesters from the left-wing League of Filipino Students scuffled Tuesday with security guards and police while a few demonstrators hurled plastic bags with yellow and blue paint at the embassy seal at the main entrance to the compound. They later dispersed.

Rolex Dela Pena / EPA

(L-R) US Lt.Gen. Francis Wiercinski, Philippine Air Force chief Lt.Gen. Oscar Rabena, Philippines Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Erlinda Basilio, US Ambassador Harry Thomas and Armed Forces of the Philippines Rear Admiral Victor Martir conduct a ceremonial linking of arms during opening rites of the Philippines-US Balikatan Exercises at a military camp in Quezon City on April 5.

About 3,000 U.S. and 2,000 Filipino troops are taking part in 10 days of exercises that have been scaled down because of relief work in Japan following the deadly earthquake and tsunami.

Leftist groups in the Philippines say the U.S. presence is an affront to the country's sovereignty.

Francis R. Malasig / EPA

Filipino demonstrators march during a protest rally in front of the US embassy in Manila on April 5, opposing joint military exercises.

Adrienne Mong of NBC News reported on the US presence in the Philippines in October 2010:

In a fight that's lasted almost as long as the one in Afghanistan, U.S. Special Forces have been helping to wage a battle against Islamic militants in Southeast Asia. NBC's Adrienne Mong reports.