KIDAPAWAN, Philippines (AP) — Communist rebels attacked Philippine troops twice with roadside bombs and gunfire on Monday, killing nine soldiers and militiamen and wounding five others in the country's south, officials said.
About 50 New People's Army guerrillas detonated a buried explosive and then opened fire on an army truck, killing eight soldiers and militiamen and wounding one soldier in a mountainous region in Tulunan town in North Cotabato province, regional army spokesman Lt. Nasrulah Sema said. The soldiers were on their way to deliver cash allowances to militiamen at a rural outpost.
About an hour later, another truckload of soldiers that was deployed to hunt down the rebels was struck by a bomb and fired upon by guerrillas in North Cotabato's Makilala town, killing a soldier and wounding four others, Sema said.
Troops were hunting the guerrillas, who withdrew toward a wooded area, he said.
The military condemned the rebel use of buried explosives, saying they also endanger civilians.
Battle setbacks, factionalism and surrenders have reduced the number of armed communist guerrillas to about 4,000 from a peak of about 25,000 in the mid-1980s, but they remain a major national security threat.
Talks brokered by Norway on ending the 44-year rebellion, one of Asia's longest, collapsed several years ago due to disagreement over a rebel demand for the release of jailed comrades.