Philippine Military Kills 8 Suspected NPA Rebels in Firefight

Nonoy Espina
Bacolod, Philippines
Philippine Military Kills 8 Suspected NPA Rebels in Firefight Guerrillas with the Philippine communist New People’s Army stand in formation in the Sierra Madre mountain range, east of Manila, July 30, 2017.

Eight suspected communist rebels died in a gunbattle with government forces in the central Philippines, the military said Wednesday, weeks after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered troops to kill rebels and end the 52-year-old Maoist insurgency.

The three-hour clash erupted on Tuesday in a remote area of Guihulngan, a city in Negros Oriental province, after residents alerted authorities about the heavy presence of  New People’s Army guerrillas near them, official said. The NPA is the armed wing of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines.

“The CPP-NPA terrorists in Negros Oriental suffered heavy losses as eight of their members died in an encounter with the troops,” the Army said in a statement.

The rebel unit involved was 40-strong, and at least 11 high-powered firearms and homemade bombs were recovered from the scene after the firefight, officials said.

The bodies of the slain rebels were also recovered, they said. There were no reports of casualties on the Army side.

“This armed group has been planning to wage terror in the area as part of the NPA’s anniversary celebration this month of March,” said Maj. Gen. Eric Vinoya, commander of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division.

The killings of the insurgents should serve as an “urgent warning” to their comrades to surrender, he said, adding that government forces would be relentless in their efforts to go after NPA rebels.

The firefight in Negros Oriental came four days after communist rebels killed five police officers and wounded two others in Camarines Norte, another province in the central Philippines.

In early March, President Duterte ordered security forces to end the communist rebellion, which began in 1969 and remains Asia’s longest-running insurgency.

“I’ve told the military and the police that if they find themselves in an armed encounter with the communist rebels, kill them, make sure you really kill them, and finish them off if they are alive,” he said.

Shortly after he made that announcement, government security forces carried out raids in Manila and nearby provinces that allegedly targeted communist insurgents. Instead, nine unarmed activists were killed, drawing strong protests from human rights advocacy groups.

Duterte has since ordered an investigation into the activists’ deaths.

Froilan Gallardo contributed to this report from Cagayan de Oro, Philippines.


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