4 Philippine Soldiers Die in Clash with Communist Rebels

Karl Romano
Dagupan, Philippines
180717-PH-NPA-1000.jpg Members of a regional police commando unit man a check point along a road near the northern Philippine town of Rosario, in La Union province, following reports of harassment by communist rebel in the area, Feb. 10, 2017.
Karl Romano/BenarNews

Four army soldiers were killed and two others wounded in a fierce gunbattle with communist insurgents in a remote mountainous area of the northern Philippines, police in the region said Tuesday.

Fighting broke out when patrolling troops encountered New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in the hinterlands along the border between Abra and Mountain provinces on Sunday, with intermittent firefights lasting into the following day, police said.

“The casualties were from the army’s 81st Infantry Battalion,” according to a report by local police.

Local officials, escorted by at least 40 volunteers from a provincial rescue group, were dispatched to retrieve the dead and wounded, who were later airlifted to an army fort in northern Nueva Ecija province, according to the government’s regional disaster relief agency.

Bad weather had hampered initial attempts to recover the bodies and rescue the injured soldiers, with heavy rains pounding a wide swathe of the Luzon region, officials told BenarNews.

The government casualties were the most since both sides taunted each other last week after the government suspended peace talks with the NPA’s mother organization, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

The government said it scuppered the talks after uncovering an alleged plot by communist rebels to overthrow the Duterte regime by the end of the year. It said the plot was based on documents that troops had recovered.

Communist leader Jose Maria Sison denied the allegation. Sison, who is living in self-exile in the Netherlands, accused the Duterte regime of telling “fantastic lies” aimed at derailing the peace process aimed at ending Asia’s longest running insurgency, which began in 1969.

Since then CPP and its armed wing, the NPA, have waged a rebellion that has left tens of thousands in the Philippine countryside dead. The military estimates have placed the rebel strength at 5,000 fighters nationwide, a claim Sison has refuted.

Felipe Villamor in Manila contributed to this report.


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