Troops kill 6 NPA rebels in Agusan

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MANILA, Philippines—At least six communist guerrillas and a government militiaman were killed in a clash following a rebel attack early Friday on a militia outpost in Agusan del Sur, the military said.

About 40 New People’s Army guerrillas attacked the militia detachment in Sibagat town, said Maj. Leo Bongosia, spokesperson for the Army’s 4th Infantry Division. One soldier also was wounded, he said.

It was the biggest battle loss for the rebels after a senior regional Communist Party leader and seven other guerrillas were killed in an Army attack two weeks earlier in Sorsogon.

Bongosia said two military helicopter gunships provided fire support to Army reinforcements during the five-hour gunbattle that ensued before the rebels withdrew.

The 44-year-old insurgency is one of Asia’s longest-running. Talks to end rural-based Maoist insurgency collapsed two years ago after the two sides disagreed over the release of jailed communist leaders. Recent efforts to revive the talks brokered by Norway failed after the rebels rejected an immediate ceasefire.

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