About 100 communist New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas launched a pre-dawn raid Friday, wounding two police officers in the central Philippine island of Samar, authorities said.
The insurgents managed to overrun the municipal police station of Lapining, a tiny coastal community in the central island of Samar, according to a police report. The attack occurred after the government and the NPA’s mother organization, the Communist Party of the Philippines, quit peace talks last month.
Two police officers, identified as Gerry Quilecal and Edison Aguirre, were wounded when they fought back.
Five other officers began shooting at the insurgents, forcing them to leave. The NPA rebels were armed with submachine guns, grenade launchers and assault rifles, but it was not clear why they gave up the fight.
A police source said the raid could be a test mission for new recruits ahead of a larger attack.
Provincial information officer Rei Josiah Echano said the attack occurred as the local government was preparing to celebrate a nationally mandated peace month in September.
“It has been forewarned that this will happen,” Echano said. “We can’t deny the fact of the armed presence by the New People’s Army here and that's the reason why we have been reaching out for dialogue with them.”
He called on the local rebel leaders to engage in peaceful talks with the community leaders.
“Absence of this effort will mean more attacks from our brothers and sisters from the rebel side,” he said.
Last month, the government said it would stop all negotiations with the CPP-NPA leaders at a national level, although localized talks could take place with rebel units.
The government had accused the rebels of plotting to overthrow the government of President Rodrigo Duterte, a self-described leftist, later this year despite negotiating peace.
Communist leader Jose Maria Sison, who lives in self-exile the Netherlands, has denied the allegation and blasted his former student of propagating what he called fantastic lies aimed at stopping the talks.
The communist front has been waging a rebellion since 1969, making the insurgency the longest running in Asia that has left tens of thousands dead.
Karl Romano in Dagupan City contributed to this report.