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Communist rebels killed at least 11 soldiers and a civilian in an ambush in the northern Philippines on Wednesday, one of the military's biggest single-clash losses in recent years.

New People's Army guerrillas attacked an army convoy of three trucks in a remote village in Ifugao province, said army spokesman Col. Miguel Puyao. The soldiers were heading to their headquarters in Kiangan township, he said.

The dead included an infantry battalion's operations officer and a woman who was part of a band that performed during a military ceremony, Puyao said. Two soldiers and another band member were wounded.

The soldiers fought the rebels for about three hours until the guerrillas retreated. Reinforcements later arrived and pursued the fleeing rebels.

With no cease-fire agreement, sporadic clashes between the military and the rebels continue. Wednesday's attack came several days after six guerrillas died in a clash with government troops in the same mountainous region.

Talks brokered by Norway to end the 43-year-old insurgency have been stalled since the government last year refused a rebel demand for the release of several of their captured comrades.

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