9 killed as Philippine troops clash with rebels

AP News
Posted: Oct 10, 2011 7:55 AM
9 killed as Philippine troops clash with rebels

Army troops battled communist guerrillas in a running gunbattle Monday that killed eight rebels and a soldier in the mountainous northern Philippines in the latest flare-up in the 42-year insurgency despite on-and-off peace talks.

A platoon of soldiers was patrolling near Abra province's Tineg village when about 20 New People's Army guerrillas opened fire with assault rifles, killing a soldier and wounding another, army spokesman Maj. Harold Cabunoc said. A running gunbattle followed in which eight rebels died and a soldier was wounded, he said.

The soldiers ran out of ammunition at one point but were backed up by more troops and air force assault helicopters, Cabunoc said. Lt. Gen. Arturo Ortiz said the troops pursued the fleeing guerrillas and the fighting dragged on for hours in the hinterlands.

The fierce fighting was the latest to erupt despite sporadic peace negotiations brokered by Norway.

Last week, more than 200 guerrillas stormed three nickel mining complexes in Claver town in southern Surigao del Norte province. The rebels disarmed guards, briefly held employees and torched trucks, heavy equipment and company offices in some of their largest attacks in recent years.

The government deployed additional troops to Surigao to reassure mining companies and foreign investors.

The rebels separately freed a town mayor and six other captives in the south over the weekend, a move welcomed by the government. Officials said they would pursue talks with the rebels despite the recent violence.

The Marxist rebels, estimated to number more than 4,000, have continued attacks after resuming talks this year aimed at settling one of Asia's longest-running communist insurgencies.