ILIGAN CITY: Philippines: Nine rebels belonging to New People’s Army (NPA) were killed in an armed encounter on Christmas day (today) with government troops in the hinterlands of Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, according to a top regional Army official.
Commanding General of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, Major General Jose Maria Cuerpo said the rebels appeared to be preparing for a gathering in time for the founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines falling on Tuesday (tomorrow).
Cuerpo added that the military also recovered eight firearms at the encounter site. No soldier was hurt in the clash, Cuerpo said further.
The encounter occurred amid the unilateral ceasefire declared by the Communist Party of the Philippines, which the military doesn’t recognize.
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The killings came about a month after the two sides agreed to resume peace talks. The military’s Fourth Infantry Division did not immediately release details of the clashes that it said left nine NPA rebels dead.
Government of President Ferdinand Marcos and the rebels announced last month that they intend to resume peace talks next year, following a series of failed negotiations launched by previous governments since the ouster of Marcos’s father, the late dictator, in 1986. The Maoist insurgency, one of the world’s longest-running, has claimed thousands of lives.
On Saturday, the rebels had announced that they would observe a two-day “suspension of tactical offensives” from Christmas Day to mark the insurgency’s 55th founding anniversary falling on Tuesday. The military, however, had said it would not observe a Christmas ceasefire this year with the NPA, which it said has less than 2,000 members left after a high of around 26,000 guerrillas in the 1980s.