Page last updated at 12:21 GMT, Tuesday, 15 December 2009

'Ten killed' in Philippines as troops attack rebels

Philippines map

At least nine communist rebels have been killed in a raid by the Philippine army in southern Mindanao island, an army official has said.

Troops backed by helicopter gunships attacked a rebel camp near Valencia town. One soldier was killed, said army spokesman Major Michelle Anayron.

Rifles and other weapons were recovered in the raid on the New People's Army guerrilla camp.

Maj Anayron said five teams of soldiers converged on the site after a tip-off.

They found around 60 rebels hiding there. Three soldiers were wounded in the fighting.

It was the heaviest loss for the rebels in Bukidnon province since March this year, Maj Anayron said.

Muslim insurgents

Peace negotiations between the rebels and the government collapsed in 2004 and more recent efforts to revive them have also fallen apart.

The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines which has waged a 40-year battle to seize power.

The conflict reached its peak in the 1980s, when the ranks of the Maoist rebels swelled to more than 25,000. Rebel numbers are now thought to be around 5,000.

The Philippine army is under orders from President Gloria Arroyo to defeat the Maoists by next year.

But Mindanao is also the focus of fighting with Muslim insurgents and powerful clans.

In Maguindanao province on the island, a local ruling Muslim clan allegedly massacred 57 people last month.

However last week, Malaysian mediators said the Philippine government and the Muslim separatists of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, or MILF, hope to conclude a peace deal next year.

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