Rebels kill 3 soldiers after blasting tower
COMMUNIST rebels blew up a cellphone transmission tower and killed three soldiers but suffered a casualty in a daylong gunfight in Baleno town, Masbate, an Army spokesman said yesterday.
Government troops were chasing rebels suspected of bombing a communications tower on the island province when they came under attack on Sunday, regional spokesman Lt. Col. Rhoderick Parayno said.
He said the outnumbered troops battled the New People’s Army guerrillas for several hours, but failed to hold their positions. By the time reinforcements arrived, the rebels had advanced, killing three soldiers and wounding two others, Parayno said in a statement.
After the attacks, the Southern Luzon commander, Lt. Gen. Alexander Yano, ordered the military to intensify counterinsurgency operations, Parayno said.
“The guerrillas withdrew toward the northwest carrying their casualties,” he said.
Reports reaching Camp Gen. Siemon Ola said the three soldiers killed were all members of the Ninth Infantry Division based in Masbate, and that the slain rebel remained unidentified.
In other violence, one soldier was killed and three were wounded in a clash with rebels in nearby Camarines Norte on Friday, police reported.
Also in the south, four suspected rebels fatally shot a former government militiaman in Sorsogon, and in neighboring Albay, six guerrillas shot to death a man they accused of being a military informer on Saturday, police said.
The rebels have been fighting for 38 years in Asia’s longest Maoist insurgency. The guerrillas, who claim to have a presence in 71 out of the Philippines’ 81 provinces, have recently stepped up attacks, prompting President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to order security forces to cut the 7,000-strong guerrillas force in half by 2010.
The rebels walked away from Norwegian-brokered peace talks in 2004 after accusing the government of instigating their inclusion on United States and European lists of terrorist groups. AP with Arlie Calalo and Mar Arguelles