The Philippine military says communist rebels have killed five soldiers and wounded two others in an ambush on the first day of a truce approved by President Benigno Aquino III.
Regional army spokesman Maj. Eugenio Osias condemned the "heartless" attack Friday morning in southern Surigao del Sur province.
He says the New People's Army guerrillas fled with nine assault rifles, a machine gun and radios they seized from the outnumbered soldiers.
Troops have been ordered to refrain from offensive operations during the Dec. 16-Jan. 2 cease-fire, but Maj. Gen. Victor Felix ordered a pursuit.
The rebels have been fighting for a Marxist state since 1969. They usually reciprocate with their own Christmas cease-fire but have not yet made any announcement.