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10 Philippine troops killed in clash with communist rebels.

MANILA, March 2 Kyodo

Communist insurgents opened fire Thursday on a truckload of government troops en route to a remote village in the central Philippines, killing a junior army officer and nine soldiers, a military report said.

The report said three other soldiers were also wounded in the ambush, which occurred shortly before noon in Santa Catalina village, Bohol Province, about 610 kilometers south of Manila.

The troops were on their way to an army camp that had been attacked earlier by a group of communist guerrillas, the report said.

"Troops were sent to the town to reinforce the soldiers, but another group of about 40 rebels ambushed the reinforcement," said a military official, who asked not to be named.

The rebels also stole at least 14 M-16 rifles from the soldiers, the report said.

According to troops who survived the attack, many soldiers were killed during the initial volley of gunfire from the New People's Army (NPA) guerrillas. The fighting reportedly lasted for two hours.

The military said the guerrillas continue to gain strength in the Philippines, and posted an unprecedented increase in numbers in December last year since hitting a low in 1995.

According to the latest military figures, the total strength of the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, reached 10,600 as of the end of December.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Mar 6, 2000
Words:226
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