MANILA: A communist rebel ambush killed six Philippine soldiers and wounded 20 others, the military said Tuesday, in one of the deadliest assaults in the nation’s five-decade-old Maoist insurgency.
Troops patrolling on foot on the eastern island of Samar were hit with homemade bombs and fought a 30-minute gunfight with New People’s Army rebels on Monday.
“They used IEDs (improvised explosive devices), leading to a large number of casualties,” regional military spokesman Captain Reynaldo Aragones told AFP, adding one rebel was also killed.
The NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, launched its rebellion to create a Maoist state in 1969. According to the military, the insurgency has claimed 40,000 lives.
Samar is an impoverished region that is fertile ground for recruitment by the 4,000-member NPA.
“There are many areas still outside the government’s reach,” Aragones said.
The NPA killed six soldiers in a similar attack elsewhere on Samar in April, while a military raid uncovered and destroyed an NPA bomb-making camp last month, he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte shelved peace talks with the Maoists in 2017, alleging their leaders were not interested in making peace.