6 soldiers dead in clash vs. NPA rebels in Samar – military

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 23) — Six soldiers were killed while six others were wounded as they fought armed communist rebels in Samar province early Tuesday, authorities said.

According to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)’s Central Command, members of the 46th Infantry Battalion were conducting combat patrol when they encountered members of the New People’s Army (NPA) at Barangay Beri in Calbiga town. It said firefight is ongoing as of Tuesday morning.

An initial report from the Eastern Visayas police said the casualties were from the blast of an improvised explosive device. The military has yet to release the names of the slain soldiers, saying their families have to be notified first.

Capt. Reynaldo Aragones, spokesperson of the Philippine Army's 8th Infantry Division, said there were more or less 20 NPA rebels, but the number of casualties from their side is unknown.

The latest clash came a week after President Rodrigo Duterte again urged the NPA to lay down their arms if they want to get back to the negotiating table. The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines which has waged a five-decade insurgency, the longest-running in Asia.

The National Democratic Front has represented the rebels in talks with the government but Duterte walked away from the on-and-off negotiations in November 2017 as both sides accused each other of ceasefire violations.

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