Philippine clashes kill 9 rebels, 1 soldier


MANILA, Philippines (AP) — At least nine communist rebels and one army soldier were killed in clashes Tuesday as troops closed in on a guerrilla encampment in a southern Philippine province, a regional military spokesman said.

Troops recovered assault rifles and other weapons from the slain New People’s Army guerrillas in a mountainous and thickly forested area outside Valencia city in Bukidnon province, Maj. Mitchelle Anayron said.

It was the heaviest loss for the rebels operating in the province since 12 guerrillas died in fighting in nearby Zamboanguita township in March, he said.

Anayron said there were about 60 rebels in the area at the time.

Three soldiers were also wounded in the fighting, he said.

The Philippine military is under orders from President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to defeat the 40-year-old Maoist insurgency by next year. The 120,000-strong armed forces are fighting an estimated 5,000 guerrillas.

Peace negotiations between the rebels and the government brokered by Norway collapsed in 2004 after the guerrillas blamed the government for their inclusion on U.S. and European lists of terrorist groups. Both sides took steps to resume the talks several months ago but the efforts again fell apart.