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5 killed in communist rebels attack in Philippines

world Updated: May 25, 2010 07:49 IST
AFP
Five killed

Five people were killed as communist rebels facing an intensified government offensive attacked a group of soldiers in the southern Philippines, the military said on Tuesday.

Three soldiers and two New People's Army rebels were reported to have died in Monday's unrest, bringing the number of fatalities linked to communist unrest on restive Mindanao island over the past fortnight to 14.

The rebels attacked an army unit guarding a road construction project on the outskirts of Davao, the biggest city on Mindanao, local military spokesman Captain Emmanuel Garcia told reporters.

Garcia said three soldiers were killed and four others were wounded, while the construction firm reported finding two dead guerrillas inside an abandoned truck they had used in the attack.

The army had deployed the soldiers to the road project site after the construction firm complained the communists had been making extortion demands.

The NPA has stepped up attacks in and around Davao over the past month.

President Gloria Arroyo has said that she wants the 41-year-old communist insurgency defeated by the time she steps down from office on June 30.

On Saturday the NPA killed three soldiers in an ambush outside Davao city.

On May 11 the NPA killed six people and wounded 12 others in Maragusan town near Davao as they ambushed a military and civilian convoy carrying equipment used in national elections the previous day.

The NPA later apologised for the civilian casualties, saying the attack was against the military escorts.

The Maoist-inspired NPA has been waging an insurgency since 1969 that has claimed thousands of lives.

Arroyo has said the NPA is on its last legs but it is still believed to have about 5,000 soldiers across the archipelago, and stages periodic surprise attacks against security forces.