Communist rebels launched a series of attacks in southern Davao del Sur province’s Matanao township on Monday, killing 10 government troops and wounding nine, officials said. At least two guerillas were killed and nine captured.
Army Major Jake Obligado, a civil military operations battalion commander in the area, said about 50 New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in camouflage uniforms first stormed the town’s police station before dawn, trading fire with five policemen.
Two officers were killed at the scene while a third died in hospital. Two others were wounded.
Bloodstains found in the rebels’ attack positions indicate casualties on the guerilla side, Obligado added. Soldiers repulsed another attack on a military detachment.
Pursuing troops then captured nine guerillas, while two rebels were killed in a third clash. The rebels later blasted a landmine on a truck that troops were boarding, initially killing six soldiers and wounding eight others. One of the wounded died while being treated, Obligado said.
Security forces are on heightened alert for the NPA’s founding anniversary on March 29, which rebels traditionally mark by attacking government troops and installations, officials said. The rebellion began in the late 1960s with a ragtag group armed with a few rifles.
The movement peaked during the repressive years under dictator Ferdinand Marcos with several thousand full-time guerillas. Though it remains one of the world’s longest-running Marxist insurgencies, the movement has weakened considerably in recent years due to battle setbacks, surrenders and factionalism. But it remains a national security concern.
Talks to end the rebellion have stalled since 2011 due to disagreements between the government and guerillas over releasing several jailed rebel leaders.