Philippine communist rebels to end unilateral cease-fire

AP News
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Posted: Feb 01, 2017 12:17 AM

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine communist rebels said Wednesday they were terminating their unilateral cease-fire after accusing the government of failing to release all political prisoners and encroaching on rebel-held areas.

The Communist Party of the Philippines and its military arm, the New People's Army, said that the Aug. 28 cease-fire will expire Feb. 10. The rebels and the government had separately declared a cease-fire as they resumed their peace talks.

The rebels said they continue to support peace negotiations. Founded in 1968, the rural-based guerrillas have unsuccessfully tried to negotiate an end to their rebellion and their inclusion in government with six Philippine presidents, including Rodrigo Duterte.

There was no immediate response from the government. But even before the latest announcement, the military counted nine rebel attacks since Sunday, including an ambush that killed two soldiers in northern Isabela and a raid on an upscale resort in Batangas province, southwest of the capital, where the guerrillas carted away security guards' firearms.

The rebels said the government had not complied with its obligation to declare amnesty for insurgents and release around 200 rebel prisoners under an earlier agreement.

Battle setbacks, surrenders and infighting have weakened the rebel group, which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States. The Philippine government estimates the number of guerrillas declined to 3,800 with more than 4,500 firearms in the first half of 2016, with about 700 of the country's 42,000 villages affected by the insurgency.

Sporadic fighting has left about 40,000 combatants and civilians dead.