Philippines: nine soldiers, one police officer killed in clashes with communist rebels

At least nine Philippine army soldiers and one police officer were killed and 25 others wounded in separate clashes with communist rebels, the military said Sunday.

New People's Army guerrillas detonated a land mine late Saturday under a truck carrying troops returning to base outside Calinog town, in central Iloilo province, killing nine, said army spokesman Maj. Bartolome Bacarro.

An ensuing firefight lasted about an hour before the rebels withdrew. There were an undetermined number of casualties on the rebel side, Bacarro said.

Maj. Lyndon Sollesta, spokesman of the 3rd Infantry Division, said about 40 guerrillas were involved in the attack against soldiers from the 47th Infantry Battallion, who were returning to base for supplies for an ongoing operation against the rebels in the area, about 400 kilometers (250 miles) southeast of Manila.

Sollesta said troops were in pursuit of the guerrillas on Sunday.

In the northern Philippine town of Tiaong in Quezon province, guerrillas ambushed a group of police officers, killing one and wounding three before dawn Sunday.

A day earlier outside Sampaloc, also in Quezon, two soldiers were wounded in a clash with the rebels, the military said.

The rebels, who are on U.S. and European lists of terrorist organizations, have been waging a rebellion in the Philippines since the late 1960s. They suspended Norwegian-brokered talks with the government last year saying Philippine officials had done little to try to get the group removed from the terrorist blacklists.

The rebels have vowed to intensify attacks in the hope of further undermining President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who has been grappling for months with her worst-ever political crisis, reported AP. P.T.

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