MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine troops clashed with communist rebels early Thursday and killed eight guerrillas after villagers complained about being abused by them, officials said.
Soldiers recovered firearms, explosives and grenade launchers after the fighting with New People's Army guerrillas in Sorsogon province southeast of Manila, said military public affairs chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala.
He said that the troops suffered no casualties.
According to Zagala, residents in Juban township complained to the military that the rebels have been extorting money and threatening them, which led to the clash.
Talks to end the 44-year-old rural-based Maoist insurgency in the Philippines collapsed two years ago after the two sides disagreed over the release of jailed communist leaders. Recent efforts to revive the talks brokered by Norway failed after the rebels rejected an immediate cease-fire.
Chief government negotiator Alexander Padilla said last month that the exiled rebel leader, Joma Sison, had himself proposed to fast track the talks by establishing a cease-fire and a committee with the government to discuss political and economic reforms. But Sison later backed off and blamed the government for the impasse.
The rebels accuse successive Philippine administrations of subservience to U.S. interests and failing to improve the lives of the poor. Their numbers have dwindled to an estimated 4,000 fighters amid battle setbacks, surrenders and factionalism. They are listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and European Union.