Communist rebels in Philippines kill 5 police, 2 soldiers (Philippines)

Communist rebels detonated a land mine and opened fire on a police van Thursday, killing five officers and wounding five others, a military spokesman said.


About 30 New People's Army rebels in San Jose township, on Mindoro island south of Manila, blew up the mine as the police van passed, then sprayed the vehicle with gunfire, regional military spokesman Lt. Col. Rhoderick Parayno said.
The police were on the way to secure a campaign rally for a local governor running in Monday's local and congressional elections, national police chief Oscar Calderon said.
Calderon accused the 7,000-strong rebels, who have waged a Maoist rebellion for 38 years, of trying to disrupt the polls.
The rebels, who claim to operate in nearly 70 of the Philippines' 79 provinces, have been criticized for forcing candidates to pay to campaign in areas under their influence.
After the attack, Mindoro Occidental Gov. Josephine Sato, who is seeking re-election, appealed to all candidates to reject communist rebel extortion demands and vowed to continue supporting anti-insurgency operations.
In a separate attack, the military reported two soldiers were killed Wednesday when the rebels fired on their vehicle in Escalante township, in Negros Occidental province, about 480 kilometers (300 miles) southeast of Manila.
Two boys, ages 12 and 16, who were hitchhiking when the soldiers picked them up suffered abrasions in the shootout, the military said, adding it deployed four helicopter gunships to find the attackers.
Amid a sharp rise in rebel attacks on military and police targets, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has ordered an intensified campaign against the New People's Army.
The rebels broke off Norwegian-brokered peace talks in 2004 after accusing the government of instigating their inclusion on U.S. and European lists of terrorist groups.

Von: Associated Press 10.05.2007

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