2 Philippine police officers escape from rebels

AP News
Posted: Apr 19, 2013 3:42 AM

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Two Philippine police officers kidnapped and held by communist rebels escaped after seizing a rifle and shooting their guards, the national police spokesman said Friday. One of the officers was safe and the other missing.

New People's Army rebels seized officers Allan Munez and Nemuel Espana on Sunday as the two were returning to a police station in Loreto township in southern Agusan del Sur province after investigating an incident in a nearby village.

Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo said that late Thursday Munez was able to grab an AK-47 rifle from one of the guards and shoot him and another guerrilla. The officers then fled from the rebel camp but got separated.

Munez returned safely to Loreto but Espana was missing, Cerbo said, adding that police and soldiers were searching for him.

It was unclear if the guerrillas were killed or just wounded.

The New People's Army has been fighting the government for 44 years, in one of Asia's longest insurgencies.

In a statement Friday, the rebels said the two officers escaped due to "lapses" of the guards but gave no details.

It said that the officers were considered "fugitives" and "subject to rearrest" to face "the full weight of the revolutionary criminal and penal laws" of the rebel movement.

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The rebels said the officers were "arrested" at a gambling den following complaints from villagers that the pair was involved in extortion, drunken disturbances and drug pushing.

The rebels said the two were not involved in human rights abuses and had promised to change their ways but their escape indicated they were insincere and disrespected "revolutionary justice."

On Wednesday, the rebels said in a statement that they had released seven militiamen they had captured separately earlier in the week. They said the militiamen were released for humanitarian reasons after an investigation showed they had not committed any serious human rights violations.