Philippine communist rebels shoot dead 2 government militiamen

Philippine communist rebels killed two government militiamen after dragging them from their homes, a guerrilla spokesman said Thursday, while government troops claimed to have killed 10 rebels in running gunbattles.

The military said weeklong fighting around Catanauan town in Quezon province, about 220 kilometers (137 miles) southeast of Manila, has left 10 rebels dead, although regional military commander Lt. Gen. Pedro Cabuay said troops were able to recover only eight bodies.

The rebels quickly denied the army's count, saying only one guerrilla was killed and another captured on Wednesday.

Rebel spokesman Gregorio Rosal said the clashes were set off when rebel snipers killed two army soldiers, prompting the military to launch retaliatory strikes.

"I'm just afraid that the military would just round up civilians and make them appear later as among the 10 rebels they've supposedly killed," Rosal said.

In a rare admission, the New People's Army rebels reported their fighters "meted the death penalty" on two government militiamen on Wednesday in New Corella town in Davao del Norte, about 930 kilometers (581 miles) southeast of Manila.

A rebel spokeswoman, Marcella Valiente, said in a statement that the two men, Raul Wanton and Bartolome Cabuga, were punished for killing a guerrilla fighter in 1988, reports the AP.

I.L.