Two suspected leftist rebels killed in clash in southern Philippines

MANILA (XINHUA) – Two suspected rebels have been killed in a clash with government troops in Zamboanga del Norte in the southern Philippines, the military said yesterday.

Spokesperson for the military’s Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) Major Arvin Encinas said troops clashed with an undetermined number of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels on Friday afternoon in a forested village near Kalawit town in Zamboanga del Norte while conducing combat operation in the area.

Encinas said the NPA rebels withdrew after battling with troops for 45 minutes.

Troops recovered the body of a slain rebel along with an M16, an AK17 assault rifle and several rounds of ammunition while clearing the encounter site, he said.

He added the body of the second slain rebel was found on Saturday.

The NPA rebels have been fighting the government since 1969, making the group one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies. They concentrate their attacks in rural areas and in small-scale skirmishes with the military. The NPA strength is estimated at 3,500, a number significantly lower than its peak strength of around 25,000 in the 1980s.