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Ukrainians Face Wagner Fighters in Bakhmut; Top U.S. Diplomat Urges Peace, Two-State Solution; CNN's Jake Tapper Interviews Benjamin Netanyahu; Battle for Democracy Goes on in Myanmar; Unrest in Peru, Protesters Want President Boluarte to Resign; In the U.K., Teachers and Civil Servants Joins Mass Strike; Pension Reform in France Triggers Second Day Protest; Missing Radioactive Capsule Found; Pope Francis Visits Africa. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired February 01, 2023 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. Just ahead here on "CNN Newsroom," the battle for Bakhmut, an inside look at the front line where Ukrainian troops are defending against massive waves of Wagner mercenaries in the key eastern city.

And two years on the Myanmar's bloody coup, we will speak to a human official who says the (INAUDIBLE) continues to commit crimes against humanity.

Plus, in Australia, a missing radioactive capsule has been found. How the extensive search to find the tiny capsule unfolded just ahead in our live report.

UNKNOWN: (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is "CNN Newsroom" with Rosemary Church.

CHURCH: Thank you for being with us. We begin this hour in eastern Ukraine where one official says the key city of Bakhmut remains one of the main targets for Russia's relentless attacks. It is part of the intense fighting that is ongoing across the Donetsk region as Ukrainian forces battle Russian troops for control of a number of towns and cities. Ukraine says the situation remains difficult in several areas in the east, including in Vuhledar and Bakhmut.

Now, Ukraine is up to receive dozens of battle tanks from allies as part of the first wave of deliveries from 12 countries as it prepares for unexpected spring offensive from Russia. Western officials say Russia is struggling to replace its losses and is unlikely to see strategic success in any upcoming offensive.

One official says attacks by Russian troops are turning the city of Bakhmut into a total ruin, and in the ongoing fight there, Ukrainian forces are also having to battle fighters from the Wagner mercenary group. CNN's Fred Pleitgen gives us an inside look at what they're facing.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Going underground with Ukraine's frontline defenders against Russia's brutal private military company, the Wagner group.

(INAUDIBLE) say they battle Wagner stormtroopers nearly every day.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): This is what it was like when a handful of their troops were attacked by about 200 Wagner fighters.

UNKNOWN: We were fighting for about 10 hours in a row. And it wasn't like just waves. It was interrupted. So, it was just like -- they didn't stop coming.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE) says his men took out scores of Wagner soldiers, until day themselves had to retreat.

UNKNOWN: One hundred forty of them, 80 were wounded and 60 were killed. And my platoon was 13 people, plus several from infantry. It was about 20 soldiers from our side and let's say 200 from their side.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Wagner's tactics, he says, they tried to overwhelm the Ukrainians by sending waves of fighters, many of them convicts recruited straight out of jail.

UNKNOWN: They make the group, let's say from 10 soldiers, passing 30 meters, then they started digging in and keeping the position. The next group is coming, next 30 meters, they reach their position, and next 30 meters, also digging in. And that's how, step by step, they are trying to move forward.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): The Ukrainians say that Wagner fighters often seemed drugged.

UNKNOWN: The machine gunner was almost getting crazy because he was shooting at them. He said, I know I shot him, but he does not fall. And then after some time, when he maybe bled out already, he just only falls down. It looks like it's very, very likely that they are getting some drugs before attack.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): The unit provided us with a recording they say is of (INAUDIBLE) questioning a captured Wagner fighter.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): (ON SCREEN TEXT): When did you realize you are just meat?

UNKNOWN (voice-over): (ON SCREEN TEXT): At the first combat mission. They brought us to the frontline on December 28. They sent us forward last night.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): (ON SCREEN TEXT): How many people did you have in the group?


UNKNOWN (voice-over): (ON SCREEN TEXT): Ten.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): We reached out to Wagner's boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin, about allegations of abuse in their ranks. This was his answer on Wagner's social media account.

Dear CNN, he writes, do you really think that we will discuss our military issues with you, while you are our open enemy? It's the same as discussing military matters and sharing information with the CIA.

(INAUDIBLE) says no matter how many more fighters Prigozhin throws at them, they will resist.

UNKNOWN: This is the war for freedom. It is a war for democracy. It is not even for me. It is not even the war between Ukraine and Russia. This is a war between a regime and democracy.

PLEITGEN (on camera): Certainly, the Ukrainians are saying that they are not going to give up an inch of territory without a fight. However, for them, things are becoming increasingly difficult also because now, they say, it's not only the Wagner private military company they're facing but also regular Russian units as well.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Pokrovsk (ph), Ukraine.


CHURCH: And CNN's Scott McLean is following developments for us. He joins us live from London. Good morning to you, Scott. So, Ukraine is renewing its call to allies for fighter jets and long-range missiles. But the west says, no, they won't be providing those particular weapons. However, the much-needed battle tanks are on the way. What is the latest on this and, of course, other weapon requirements?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Rosemary. Look, Ukrainians are once again trying to push the limits of what is possible in terms of western deliveries of weapons, and their latest ask, frankly, is a big one.

Ukrainian foreign minister said yesterday that he has instructed his diplomats in western capitals to make it their priority to lobby for two things in particular. One, fighter jets, western fighter jets, and number two, long-range missiles that can strike targets up to 300 kilometers. That kind of a range would allow the Ukrainians to easily strike inside Russian territory, Russia itself, not just Russian-held territory.

The -- and, of course, one of the concerns of the west in sending any kind of weapon systems is that this may escalate the actual conflict, escalate the war. The Ukrainians say that, look, this is for defense and deterrence only.

But an adviser to President Zelenskyy made this argument also more broadly. He said that some E.U. states' representatives believe Ukraine shouldn't be given weapons as the war will spread to Europe. But, one, war is already in the center of Europe and Russian federation kills people in the most anti-human way. Number two, if Ukraine doesn't get weapons, war will spread to the E.U. as Russia won't stop the expansion.

And of course, it is not just jets and not just long-range missiles. The Ukrainians are also keeping up their efforts to get more of what they already have. For instance, France has agreed to send more of the howitzer artillery systems than it has already sent to Ukraine.

France, of course, is one of 12 countries now sending tanks also to Ukraine, which is pretty incredible considering that just over three weeks ago, not a single country had agreed to send tanks to Ukraine. Now, they are getting more than 120, they expect in the first round of shipments, and they are hoping for even more than that.

In terms of the jets, the fighter jets, the door is not completely closed, though, it seems that it is in some places. President Biden said very clearly, no. The German chancellor said something similar.

But the Ukrainian defense minister said that, look, the answer was the same when we asked for other weapon systems in the past. He is actually in France at the moment and he says that he is optimistic about getting these things.

His French counterpart, the French defense minister, said that, look, nothing is off the table, but anything that gets sent has to be for defensive purposes only and it has to be useful.

That is one problem that the British had brought up. They believe that sending fighter jets, frankly, is not that practical because these are extremely sophisticated machines and even trained Ukrainian fighter pilot would have to train for months and months to actually figure out how to fly, in any kind of a competent way, the western version of these planes. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right, Scott McLean joining us from London, many thanks.

Well, now to the Middle East and a stronger than expected show of support for the Palestinians from the top U.S. diplomat. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday, calling for an end to the recent violence. He also reaffirmed U.S. support for a two-state solution to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.

Blinken cautioned Israel against the expansion of settlements and the demolition of Palestinian homes. He also asked senior State Department officials to stay in the region to work towards peace.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Across my meetings with Israel's government, Palestinian authority, our partners in Cairo, I heard a deep concern about the current trajectory.


BLINKEN: But I also heard constructive ideas for practical steps that each that each side can take to lower the temperature, to foster greater cooperation, to bolster people security.


CHURCH: For his part, Mr. Abbas demanded Israel be held accountable for its actions in Palestinian territories. And he warned his people would not accept occupation forever.

CNN's Nic Robertson has details.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Weather matching the mood in the West Bank, gloomy. A rain drenched Ramallah, venue for Secretary of State Antony Blinken's meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Expectation steeped in past disappointments.

I'm 40 years old. I've seen it all before, this coffee vendor tells us. Many leaders here come and go. The situation remains the same. His neighbor running the nearby nut store, even more downbeat.

It's from bad to worse, he tells us. Someone who is against our cause, what can we expect from him?

Even experts in the art of diplomacy here see irony in Blinken's visit that ultimately weakens their leaders.

HANAN ASHRAWI, PALESTINIAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGNER: Only enhances the Palestinian people's lack of trust. And, of course, it turns people towards individual actions, acting to the occupation by saying, we will defend ourselves, we will resist.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Inside the meeting, not an easy dynamic. Blinken wanting what a boss can ill afford to give, improve cooperation with Israel, absent concessions. Abbas wanting what Blinken can't give either, parity of U.S. support with Israel, saying, our people will not accept the continuation of the occupation forever. Blinken offering a small bump in aid, help with a legacy phone network, and a warning for Israelis and Palestinians not to threaten the possibility of a two-state solution.

BLINKEN: We oppose any action by either side that makes tackle more difficult to achieve, more distant. And we have been clear that this includes things like settlement expansion and, of course, incitement and acquiescence to violence.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Stronger words than many expected. But here, actions speak loudest.

ASHRAWI: The fact is Israel has destroyed the two-state solution. Israel is making sure that there is no viable, sovereign Palestinian state. It is (ph) expanding settlements, stealing more land. ROBERTSON (voice-over): For the young, Blinken's diplomacy, a double whammy. No faith in their own leadership and no hope Blinken can deliver.

Our leadership isn't capable of delivering what we want, 18-year-old (INAUDIBLE) tells us. I don't see a two-state solution, he says. Maybe between us and the Jewish people, but with the Israeli occupiers, never.

(On camera): We are Ramallah, the sign says, but many people here are increasingly asking themselves, but are we a viable Palestinian state?

Nic Robertson, CNN, Ramallah, the West Bank.


CHURCH: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he doesn't want people to get hung up on peace talks with the Palestinians. Instead, he wants to focus first on peace with Israel's other Arab neighbors. Mr. Netanyahu sat down for an exclusive interview with CNN's Jake Tapper.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: What happens when Saudi Arabia gets the U.S. to go along with some of the things that they want from the U.S. in terms of security measures, but they say, look, Mr. Netanyahu -- they probably call you Bibi -- I need something for the Palestinians in order to go along with this?

I can't just do this around the Palestinians. That's important to me and to my constituency. What are you willing to give? Are you willing to let people in the West Bank vote? Are you willing to let the 300,000 Arabs who have residency in east Jerusalem vote?

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: Well, I'm certainly willing to have them have all the powers that they need to govern themselves, but none of the power that can threaten us. This means that Israel should have the overriding security responsibility because every time we move out, say from Lebanon, basically, Iran came in with its proxy Hizballah. We moved out of Gaza, and the other radical Islam, the Hamas, took over.


NETANYAHU: And if we just walk away, as people suggest, then we'll have -- Hamas and Iran move into the hills around Jerusalem overlooking Tel-Aviv. I think there is a formula for peace. But my view is, because of the fact that the continuum, the persistent Palestinian refusal, which goes back a century, to recognize a Jewish state a nation state for the Jewish people and any boundary, that persistent refusal persists, if we wait for them, we're not going to have peace.

People said you have to work your way outside in first, inside out. First, peace with Palestinians, peace with the world. I think realistically, it's going to be the other way around.

If we make peace with Saudi Arabia, depends on Saudi leadership, and bring effectively the Arab-Israeli conflict to an end, I think we will circle back to the Palestinians and get a workable peace. With the Palestinians, I think that that's possible, and I think that's the way to go.


CHURCH: Mr. Netanyahu also said he is looking into military support for Ukraine but he doesn't want a military confrontation with Russia.

Well, two years ago, life in Myanmar changed forever. The military coup and subsequent bloody crackdown on protesters drove many ordinary people to take up arms. Coming up, an exclusive look inside the rebel camps.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, today marks two years since Myanmar's military overthrew the democratically-elected government and seized power. What followed was a violent crackdown on protesters. The toll on the country has been devastating. The U.N. estimates about 1.2 million people have been displaced, about 70,000 people have fled the country, and political violence has claimed the lives of 19,000.

The U.N. has accused the military dictatorship of war crimes and crimes against humanity, but Myanmar's military says that its actions are a campaign against terrorists.

CNN's Ivan Watson is in Hong Kong. He joins us live. Good to see you, Ivan. So, two years after the military coup, the battle for democracy continues. How intense is that fight? And what chance do rebel fighters have up against the military junta?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is intense, it is increasingly deadly. It is two years ago today that the military overthrew the selected government and plunged the country not only into a cycle of violence and increasing instability, but also into economic plenary (ph) where you have the United Nations warning that some 17.6 million people in Myanmar are expected to need humanitarian assistance in 2023.


WATSON: Now, the streets of Yangon, the biggest city in Myanmar, were conspicuously empty today and that's because it appears people were protesting silently by not turning out into the streets on what is, I think, by many accounts, a dark and very depressing anniversary.

Some of the people that we saw in the first months after the coup that had been out peacefully protesting, they have evolved as the military crackdown, grew more and more deadly, and turned into fighters fighting in the bush, in the jungles, and that is where we got some exclusive images of this deadly civil war.


WATSON (voice-over): Racing into battle. Images shared exclusively with CNN, filmed by combat medics in Myanmar. They extract a rebel fighter wounded in the clash last October with government forces. Scenes from a vicious conflict raging across the heart of southeast Asia, a war that is really seen by the outside world.


WATSON (voice-over): The United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar is trying to focus international attention on the crisis.

ANDREWS: It has been two years of military war with its own people. We've seen 1. 1 million people displaced. We've seen more than 28,000 homes destroyed. Thousands of people have been killed.

WATSON (voice-over): Before the war, this group of medics included a high school student, a lab technician, and a hospital nurse.

(On camera): Why are you guys doing this? Why are you risking your lives right now?

UNKNOWN (through translator): If we don't fight, then we know we won't get democracy. That's what we want.

WATSON (voice-over): On February 1st, 2001, Myanmar's top army general announced a military coup imposing martial law and throwing members of the elected government in jail.

A deadly crackdown crushed anti-coup protests, forcing the opposition underground and into the jungle. Armed rebel groups calling themselves "people's defense forces," spread up across the country, allying themselves with armed ethnic militias that have battled the military for decades.

No foreign country publicly offers them support. So, these fighters armed themselves, using ammunition produced in a jungle workshop. Home-made rounds stored in refrigerator.

UNKNOWN: This is for air drop drones.

WATSON (voice-over): He sows drone bombs, mortar rounds, and something he calls rifle grenades tested nearby.

Compare these makeshift weapons to the military boasting an arsenal that includes tanks and warplanes. One of the military's deadliest airstrikes on record involved what was promoted as a local golf tournament last October. The competition and subsequent concert organized by an ethnic opposition group called the "Kachin Independents Organization."

Survivors say a famous local singer named Ora Lee (ph) was about to perform his second song of the night when--


WATSON (voice-over): -- an airstrike demolished the building, throwing this local businessman who doesn't want to be identified for his safety, up into the air.

People who have been happily greeting each other, clapping and drinking wine, we're now corpses, he says. They were in pieces. It was horrific.

Kachin officials say that the attack killed the singer and at least 67 other people.

In response to a CNN request, Major General (INAUDIBLE) claimed responsibility for the attack. And his letter published in the state newspaper, he called it a necessary military operation, targeting a den where enemies and terrorists were hiding, adding, throughout history until now, the military has never attacked civilians.

ANDREWS: That statement is absurd. It's ridiculous. There is clear evidence. We have video of airstrikes on villages.

WATSON (voice-over): Evidence that points to a growing number of civilian casualties from a conflict with no end in sight.

ANDREWS: If it remains in the shadows of international attention, then we are providing a death sentence to untold numbers of people.

WATSON (voice-over): With no help on the horizon, the next generation has little choice but to prepare for a life at war.


WATSON: Rosemary, part of why we don't see the images of the violence in Myanmar on the front pages of our newspapers is by design. Human rights groups, press freedom groups accused the military regime of cracking down on independent journalists, of pursuing them, and of preventing independent observers from getting access to the country, and of also shutting down telecommunication systems in areas where the fighting is taking place.


WATSON: Meanwhile, neighboring countries have not made it easy for outside observers to gain access to Myanmar. And as a result, many people can stick their head in the sand while this country in the heart of Southeast Asia continues to bleed. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Very, very important point. Ivan Watson, many thanks for that report.

The U.N. special rapporteur on Myanmar, Tom Andrews, who you just saw featured in Ivan's piece, joins me now from Fairfax, Virginia. Thank you, sir, for being with us.

ANDREWS: Thank you, Rosemary. CHURCH: So, today, February 1st, marks the two-year anniversary of the military coup in Myanmar. Two years on, what are conditions like inside that country? We saw a snapshot there in Ivan's piece. But describe to us what day-to-day life is like for most people.

ANDREWS: It is -- it is a living hell for many, many people in Myanmar. If they are not under attack at any given moment, they are worried that they are going to be under attack. More than half of the population has fallen below the poverty line. It is protected in 2023 that 17.6 million people in Myanmar are going to need humanitarian aid, 17.6 million. That contrasts, Rosemary, with one million the year before the coup.

It gives you an indication of just how bad things are and how bad things continue to be day after day under these horrible conditions that the people of Myanmar are suffering through as a result of this junta.

CHURCH: You asked U.N. countries in a meeting Tuesday not to offer technical assistance to Myanmar's junta for what you call a sham election that will be likely held sometime this year. What response did you get to that request?

ANDREWS: Well, it's interesting. People are listening. The junta has zero legitimacy among the vast majority of the population of Myanmar. They are seeking legitimacy in the eyes of the international community. They're having a very, very difficult time getting that with exception of only a handful of countries.

So, what they're trying to do is orchestrate what they're calling an election, which is just an absurdity. You cannot have a free and fair election when you arrest, detain, torture and execute leaders of the opposition, when journalists are unable to do their job because it is against the law or when it is a crime to criticize the junta.

So, by any standard, these elections are farce and a sham. It is critically important that governments do not provide the veneer of legitimacy by, for example, providing any kind of technical assistance. Do not aid and abet this fraud that they're calling an election.

So far, I'm happy to say, our people are listening. I'm hopeful that the junta is certainly not going to get away with perpetuating this fraud not only with people of Myanmar but of the world.

CHURCH: How much do you worry, though, that without outside help and monitors inside Myanmar, the junta will still win without that election without the U.N.'s watchful eye there?

ANDREWS: Well, you, know it's just meaningless. I mean, they'll be -- the conditions will be just so bizarre, really. It will not be anything like an election by any standard. So, whatever happens, it's just theater. It's just orchestration. But, you know, the junta, they're like mushrooms. They thrive in the dark. It is so critically for the world to know. And, by the way, there are some encouraging signs when the international community takes an action. The other thing that's been clear is that the junta is losing ground to the opposition in many, many parts of the country. In fact, there was a document that was released, leaked to the press, minutes of a meeting of senior officials from the Junta military officials in which they expressed real anxiety about the fact that not only have they lost ground this year, not only is the opposition growing and getting stronger, but they're projecting that in 2023, they're going to be losing even more ground.

CHURCH: You mentioned that some western powers have added more sanctions on the military junta. That in actual fact happened Tuesday. But what more needs to be done to end the violence and human rights crisis that we are seeing play out in Myanmar?


ANDREWS: Well, you know, we have to tighten these sanctions. We have to make them tougher. They have to be coordinated and focused much like we're doing with Ukraine.

Right now, they are a hodgepodge. They're not a focus. They're not strategic. And that's exactly what they have to be. We also have to cut off the supply of weapons in every way that we can. And the revenue that's being used to produce the raw materials that they're using to manufacture weapons inside of the country. Those have to be cut off.

So, by every measure, and then diplomatically we need to be isolating this country, this junta that has taken over this country and has taken it hostage so it does not have legitimacy or credibility in the eyes of the world. The tree things they need to sustain themselves is money, weapons and legitimacy. And there's lots that we can do, a lot more than we can do to deny them all three.

CHURCH: U.N. special rapporteur on Myanmar, Tom Andrews, thank you so much for talking with us.

ANDREWS: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Round two of the French strikes and protests and the crowds are growing larger. What this means for the showdown of a pension reform as both the unions and the government dig in.


CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. Peru's congress will discuss early elections in the coming hours amid nationwide protest. The country's president, Dina Boluarte, is urging lawmakers to consider a proposal to hold elections later this year. Protests have rocked the country since former president, Pedro Castillo's ouster in December. Channel 4 news correspondent, Guillermo Galdos, takes a look at what protesters are demanding.



in the Peruvian Andes, local people have taken control of the mountain roads.

UNKNOWN (text translation): Hurrah for the people's fight!

GALDOS (voice-over): They are supporters of the deposed president, Pedro Castillo, who was arrested in December after trying to dissolve congress and rule by decree.

UNKNOWN (text translation): Our hospitals have been abandoned, our education has been abandoned. Everything has been abandoned!

GALDOS (voice-over): Most here are poor, indigenous farmers and minors who work southern Peru's resource rich land, but see little in return. Castillo, a left-wing former union leader promised to change all of that.


And, these protesters believe he was overthrown by a corrupt political elite in the capital, Lima who have never done anything to help them. Violent protests have spread across Peru since Castillo's removal. Clashes with police have led to more than 50 deaths and hundreds injured.

Castillo's successor, President Boluarte, has done little to quell the anger, refusing to resign and calling the protests terrorism. The protesters call her a traitor.

But while the flash points dominate the headlines, Peru is in a state of paralysis. Cusco, the closest major town to Machu Pichu and so relies heavily on tourism. That has completely shut down because tourists have been told it's too dangerous to travel here.

We traveled the winding highways though the Andes, heading for the town of Juliaca. We will stop at barricade after barricade. This journey usually takes five hours. This time it was two days.

Juliaca is the scene of the worst violence during the weeks of chaos. On the 9th of January, 17 people were killed as police use light ammunition on protesters at the airport.

Among those killed was a medical student called Marco Samillan. I met his family, who told me he was in clear medical uniform and treating an injured protester, but the police shot him anyway.

UNKNOWN (text translation): Why did they kill my brother like that? Because he was provincial, was his life worth less? The protests are not going to end. One thing which makes us different from the people in the capital, we do not give up. They will not silence us, more people will die, but we will not be silenced. Every night I cry for him, life will never be the same for me. He used to hug me when I was down and he is not here. I feel empty, but obliged to keep on living, if it was up to me, I would give up on life.

GALDOS (voice-over): Today, the area around the (inaudible) in Juliaca looks like a war zone.

GALDOS: This was the place where 17 people died in clashes with the police, Hundreds of people plan to take over the airport. They destroyed the fence and they were trying to stop police and military reinforcements arriving at the airport. Today, we spoke with the police and they've told us they've been authorized to open fire.

GALDOS (Voice-over): I met with the brigade of young volunteer medics who Marco was working with the day he was killed.

UNKNOWN (text translation): It was a massacre in my opinion because there were people injured with rubber bullets. Then there were people shot with bullets in the head, they have very bad injuries.

GALDOS (voice-over): These remote regions have not seen violence like this since the days of Shining Path, a Maoist insurgent group, which killed thousands of Peruvians in the 80s and 90s. The military were sent in to crush the far-left group then. And that response killed thousands of civilians, too.

Marcos' medical colleagues accompanied his family to the cemetery for his funeral. This was a young man who died trying to save the lives of others.

UNKNOWN (text translation): Brothers and family, I promise you here in front of this tomb. We will not forget hi, we will demand justice and we will make sure that we get it. We will never forget this.

GALDOS (voice-over): The protests began as support for one politician and his failed coup. But they are beyond that now. This is a cry of anger from people who don't feel valued by the leaders of their country. They believe their lives are seen as worthless by a government they think just doesn't care, whether they live or die.


CHURCH: Our thanks to Guillermo Galdos of Channel 4 News for that report.


Well, massive disruptions are likely to paralyze parts of Britain today when an estimated half a million public sector workers go on strike. Frustration has been mounting for months over salaries that have not kept pace with the U.K.'s double digit inflation. And demonstrators are already protesting a push by the conservative government to ban walkouts in vital industries.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak will likely face questions about that later today in parliament. And CNN's Nada Bashir is following this for us. She joins us live from London. Good morning to you, Nada. So, how many workers are expected to the strike today and how disruptive will this likely be?

NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, Rosemary, this is set to be the largest walkout staged in a single day by public service workers that the U.K. has seen in more than a decade. And the government is expecting significant disruption across the public sector. Of course, this is all part of a long running row between the trade unions and the government over working conditions and crucially pay.

These trade unions, of course, calling for their pay rises to be increased in relation to the cost-of-living crisis and the inflation rates that we are seeing in the United Kingdom. Now, this is going to impact a range of industries and public sectors, workers of course, crucially teachers are beginning what is set to be several days of strike action across England and Wales.

We heard just yesterday from the general secretary of the National Education Union, which is orchestrating the strike, Kevin Courtney. He spoke to the national broadcaster, the BBC. He said that he anticipates to set up to 200,000 teachers will take part in the strike across the country. And he also pushed back on any suggestion that negotiations have been moving forward with the British government.

Now, Rishi Sunak's government has said that its door remains open and they are willing to talk with the union to salvage some sort of resolution. But Kevin Courtney, the general secretary of the Teacher's union described this as fanciful. But of course, we are seeing walkouts by other interesting sectors including transport, rail services, set to be hugely disruptive and civil servants also now joining the strikes. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right, Nada Bashir joining us live from London. Many thanks. Well, the cost-of-living crisis is also fueling deep dissatisfaction in France where massive crowds held a second round of strikes. They are protesting the government's deeply unpopular pension reform plans. Police say Tuesday's demonstration drew about 1.3 million people nationwide. A bigger turnout than the initial walkouts.

Many trains were canceled and schools were closed forcing millions to change their routines. Two more days of strikes are planned for next week, but the French government shows no sign of backing down from its plans to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.

Anne-Elisabeth Moutet is a columnist for the Telegraph and also contributes to UnHerd and Franceinfo. Thank you so much for joining us.


CHURCH: So, massive crowds responded to the call from France's labor unions for the second day of country wide strikes and demonstrations to protest President Macron's proposed pension reform to raise the retirement age to 64. So, how likely is it that these protests and strikes will change the government's decision to push ahead with this reform?

MOUTET: Probably, not very much. But the government is in a bit of a tight spot, nonetheless, because it doesn't have a full majority in the house. So, President Macron's party needs alliances in order to pass this law through. As we have said, the debate that has started in the national assembly now is going to be around literally thousands of amendments, some of which are just going to sort of get absolute two (inaudible) reactions, but some are going to be fought over bitterly in order to mitigate the effects of the law.

And one of the things that you've got to understand is the French pension system is a (inaudible) system. So, what happens is I pay now for many that are going to be paid for people who go and retire, and they will be paid tomorrow by people who retire tomorrow -- who haven't retired yet tomorrow.

When we created the system in 1946, we had it eight people at work for one part pensioner and it was easily in the block. You have a little fewer than 2 people paying for one pensioner nowadays and it's very obvious that the demographic change and the aging of the population has made the system completely unsustainable.

CHURCH: Right. And of course, it's hard to explain those sorts of numbers to people when they're really hurting, isn't it? So, the first strike was held on January 9th, but so far, the government is pressing ahead with its reform.


And it is worth mentioning that most developed nations have citizens retiring much later than 64, at around 67 in some cases. But will this mean the country can expect many more protests and strikes until the government caves in, with two more strikes we know planned for next week.

MOUTET: I think the strikes will go on and you understand that there's a culture of striking in France and this is not seen as the end of the world but a sort of a strong negotiating (inaudible) in the kind of kabuki Japanese theater that we do before we pass a bill. But really why are people worried so much. It's not so much the question of the retirement age. It's that France is a country that has structure and employment. It's between 8 and 10 percent has been for three decades at least.

And what this also means is that employers tend to get rid of workers after 50. What people are looking terrifyingly at is the possibility of having two more years unemployed, with nobody wanting to hire them, although they are sort of having regret of life (ph) and having it to sort of continue a bit further. And that's what colors it. That's when of course the cost-of-living prices, which as you said earlier, is making everybody worried that their hob will be next.

CHURCH: Yes, absolutely. And understandable of course. Anne-Elisabeth Moutet, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

Well, the search for a tiny radioactive capsule in Australia is over. What we're learning about where and how it was found, and of course, how it was lost. Back in just a moment.


CHURCH: We are following a developing story out of Australia where authorities have recovered a radioactive capsule that's been missing for the past six days. Now, they found it on a remote highway in western Australia. The capsule was discovered missing from a package sent from a mining site near the city of Perth, prompting a massive search.

And this of course was a tiny, tiny capsule. It's very important to emphasize that. And CNN's Kristie Lu Stout is following developments for us. She joins us live from Hong Kong. Good to see you, Kristie. So, this tiny radioactive capsule, thankfully, has been found. Talk to us about how they found it because there were pictures of them combing the area because it was so very small and of course, it was going to be out there for 300 years.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This was a remarkable effort, Rosemary. This tiny, potentially deadly capsule that was missing in western Australia for six days. And this radioactive-- people have been calling it noodle in the haystack, has remarkably been found. The capsule was found today at 11:30 a.m. local time. That's when we learned the press conference, we've been monitoring the last hour or so, it was found on the Great Northern Highway just two meters from the side of the road.


And the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, they broke the news early on Twitter. This is what they said. Let's bring up the tweet for you. "The DFES coordinated search efforts for a radioactive capsule have been successful. The positive result of locating the tiny object over a 1,400-kilometer area is testament to amazing interagency teamwork in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds." You can say that again.

Now, the search took place in a stretch of Australian highway that's about the size of the California coastlines. So, how did they do it? Well, they swept the area very, very slowly. They dove these vehicles with flashing hazard lights and they had these specialized radiation detectors. They drove them slowly up and down the highway, both directions at 50 kilometers per hour or around 30 miles per hour.

And as you mentioned, Rosemary, as with the size of the pellet, it is tiny. Let's bring up this graphic. It's right there. This is from the Department of Health in Western Australia, and it shows the size of the capsule compared to a coin. The silver capsule at least 6 mm, 8 mm roughly the size of the tip of a pen or a pencil. Back to you.

CHURCH: Yeah. Of course, that's a 10-cent coin there. And that's like a dime here. So, talk to us, too. The big question is how did they lose it because the consequences of this, if they hadn't found it, is just horrifying, in fact. Isn't it?

STOUT: Yes, the consequences definitely horrifying because of the cancer risk that it would pose if any one animal or having forbid, a curious child would accidentally pick up the object. It would cause immediate skin burns.

An investigation is underway. It is believed that what happened was the vibrations from the bumpy roads of the truck, that miscarrying the capsule damaged the package that was holding the capsule. And that caused the capsule to fall loose and fall off of the truck. We have just received a statement from Rio Tinto.

Again, Rio Tinto, they had used a logistics company. They were transporting this item from one month to another in Perth when it became dislodged. They pointed out investigation is underway. They did issue an apology earlier, but they also pointed out and the experts agree that this event was extremely unusual. Back to you.

CHURCH: Just unbelievable, isn't it. Kristie Lu Stout joining us live from Hong Kong. Many thanks.

Well, still to come, Pope Francis has a strong message for those who he says are exploiting Africa's natural resources. A live report from Nairobi, next.


CHURCH: We want to go live to the Democratic Republic of Congo where Pope Francis is set to hold mass. Francis arrived in Kinshasa on Tuesday for his first visit to the country. He quickly denounced those who exploit Africa's natural resources and fuel conflict, condemning what he calls the poison of greed.

Later today, he is set to meet with victims of violence from the eastern part of the country. So, we do want to go to CNN's Larry Madowo who joins us live from Nairobi, Kenya. So, talk to us about this issue. What is the latest?

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, this mass has begun in Kinshasa. It's a big celebration. About a million people are expected. And from the moment that Pope Francis landed in the Democratic Republic of Congo yesterday, there was tens of thousands of people lining up the streets to greet him.


He was in this open top, carries the Pope Mobile even though he was in a wheelchair and that is because that is why he couldn't make this trip when it was first announced back in July, but he's here now. The Democratic Republic of Congo has the largest Catholic population in all of Africa. The six largest in the entire world.

About 40 percent of the 100 million people in that country identify as Catholic. That's why it' such an important trip for the Pope to come here and add his voice, add his influence, the conflict that has beset this country. It's one of the world's most resource rich country of gold and cobalt and diamond that has suffered so much conflict including the eastern part of the DRC on Goma.

That is why Pope Francis, who is not making that trip over the meeting with victims of the violence there, later after this mass. But in his opening address when he met with the government and civil society leaders and other member society of the DRC, he has this rousing speech calling out the exploitation of resources in the DRC and across Africa. Listen.


POPE FRANCIS (through translation): Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Hands off Africa. Stop chocking Africa. It is not mine to be stripped or terrain to be plundered. Mau Africa be the protagonist of its own destiny.


MADOWO: That's a pretty extraordinary statement coming from a pope. And (inaudible) is very well-received. You hear the applause as he speaks that audience and the DRC. And so, that is why this mass is such an important one to have the pontiff there in person, adding his voice, and calling out both the recent exploitation, but also asking for peace. He says he supports all the peace processes in the DRC to try and make sure that people there can live with dignity and have a chance to really rebuild their lives.

After this, he was going to go to South Sudan in Juba where, also, that country, the youngest nation on Earth has suffered so much conflict since it became independent about 11, 12 years ago. And again, he's going to be in that trip, this time with the head of the Anglican Church and the head of the church of Scotland, adding their voices to the conflict in that part of the world.

CHURCH: All right, Larry Madowo, thank you for joining us live from Nairobi. Appreciate it. And thank you for spending part of your day with me. I'm Rosemary Church. "CNN Newsroom" continues with Max Foster and Bianca Nobilo next.