ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (AA) – Four soldiers were wounded Sunday in an ambush by dozens of suspected communist rebels in the Philippines’ southern Zamboanga del Sur province, police said.
Inspector Dahlan Samuddin, the information officer-in-charge of Regional Office 9, said some 30 members of the New People’s Army (NPA) insurgency attacked a military vehicle carrying five soldiers at around 8:45 a.m. on a bridge in Tigbao town – about 170 kilometers from the Zamboanga City.
Samuddin said that the injured troops were “brought to Tigbao Rural Health Center for treatment of shrapnel and gunshot wounds, while combined military and police personnel launched operations against the communist rebels.”
Meanwhile, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said the National Democratic Front (NDF) – an umbrella group of leftist organizations in the Philippines – announced in a statement Sunday that four officers, captured in a June 10 attack on a police station in Surigao del Norte province, are set to be released.
The statement added that the release had been agreed to on condition of a five-day ceasefire in six towns in the province.
DILG Secretary Mar Roxas said the NDF had agreed to reduce their initial condition of a ten-day ceasefire in provincial capital Surigao and 14 municipalities in mainland Surigao del Norte.
“We have talked with the NDF about the release of the four policemen since the NDF scrubbed the turnover scheduled for June 25,” Roxas added.
Surigao del Norte Governor Sol Matugas also said that the regional NDF had “informed Secretary Roxas through an emissary that the NPA units holding the four policemen are amenable to releasing their captives if government security forces” accepted the ceasefire.
Both Roxas and Matugas reiterated their commitment to a peaceful resolution between the government and the communist rebel group.
The NPA – the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines – has been waging an insurgency since 1969 that has left tens of thousands of people dead.
Philippine authorities have tagged the NPA rebels as notorious extortionists and blamed them for harassing banana, pineapple and rubber plantations, as well as poultry farms and mining outfits.
President Benigno Aquino had aimed to reach a peace deal with the communists by the end of his term in 2016. But the government last year said talks had collapsed due to rebel demands that detained comrades be freed.
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