A Philippine army vehicle hit a crude landmine planted by communist rebels who then opened fire on the troops inside killing six soldiers and wounding two, an army commander said on Saturday.
Lieutenant-Colonel Manuel Sequitin, a battalion commander in Compostela Valley on the troubled southern island of Mindanao, said the soldiers were on their way to a community meeting in New Bataan town on Friday when the rebels attacked.
"Six of our boys were killed in the initial blast and volley of automatic gunfire," Sequitin told reporters, adding the troops were preparing for a medical mission in the area next week and were about to talk to local officials to find out their needs.
"It was a humanitarian mission. We condemn this dastardly act by the New People's Army (NPA) rebels."
Sequitin said some rebels were wounded after six other soldiers fired back on the attackers and engaged the guerrillas in a brief gunbattle after the landmine incident.
Compostela Valley, a mining province on Mindanao, has become a centre of communist rebel activities because of the huge amount of money they generate from extortion, Sequitin said, adding violence has been on the rise in the area where mainly small miners operate.
The communist conflict, which started in the late 1960s, has killed more than 40,000 people and scared off investors in the resource-rich Philippines.
The 5,000-member NPA targets mines, plantations, timber, construction and telephone companies to raise funds and disrupt the economy, burning property and equipment and seizing weapons from private security guards.