Five soldiers were killed and four wounded in a communist guerrilla ambush in the southern Philippines after a fresh attempt to restart peace talks collapsed, authorities said Wednesday.
New People’s Army (NPA) rebels set off landmines as the soldiers’ truck passed near Lianga town on Tuesday, according to police and military reports.
The rebels also stopped a bus and used the vehicle to block reinforcements from reaching the ambush site, they added.
In a statement issued Wednesday, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the political leadership of the NPA, said the global financial turmoil would strengthen their forces and weaken the Philippine government.
“If the US and other global centres of capitalism are staggered by financial crisis and certain depression, how much more their semicolonies like the Philippines,” it said.
The National Democratic Front (NDF), an arm of the CPP, said that fresh attempts to reopen peace talks between the government and the rebels collapsed in Oslo, Norway last week.
The NDF said it rejected a government demand for a “prolonged ceasefire” before talks could resume.
Manila cancelled peace talks with the Maoists soon after President Gloria Arroyo won a fresh term in 2004, and she has ruled out any such talks unless the rebels agreed to a ceasefire.
The 5,000-strong NPA and the CPP have been waging a Maoist rebellion since 1969 in one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies.