MANILA, Philippines – Three rebels and four soldiers died Saturday when the guerrilla New People's Army attacked a power plant south of the capital, the military said.
The attack came days after a rebel official warned of increased attacks to punish the government of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (search) for its close ties to the United States.
About 50 New People's Army guerrillas attacked government troops guarding the power plant in Calaca (search) about 2 a.m., armed forces spokesman Lt. Col. Daniel Lucero said.
Air force Maj. Restituto Padilla said three government troops were killed in the gunbattle and a fourth died later in a hospital. The rebels also wounded six on the government side.
Rebel fighters fired at least two volleys of light anti-tank rockets at the detachment guarding the power plant.
Padilla said his forces recovered the bodies of three rebels, but a spokesman for the New People's Army, Gregorio Rosal, said he was only aware of two casualties.
After government reinforcements arrived, the rebels fled and were being pursued, Lucero said.
Shortly after the incident, another group of rebels ambushed a convoy of soldiers sent to reinforce a detachment in the nearby town of Balayan. There were no reports of casualties.
Lucero said the rebels intended to destroy the power plant, about 50 miles south of Manila, and cause a widespread blackout on the main Philippine island of Luzon (search).
"They intended to paralyze the livelihood of the people ... and they would just be alienated from the masses," Lucero said.
The rebel spokesman told DZRH radio the attack was "in response to the directive of the party to intensify tactical offensives" and to punish the soldiers based in the area for human rights violations.
"The attack was directed at the detachment," Rosal said. "In truth they did not do anything to (the facility)," he said.
Rosal on Tuesday vowed to intensify attacks ahead of May elections in hopes of bringing down Macapagal. After the Sept. 11 attacks, the Philippine guerrillas became a target of the U.S.-led global war on terror when Washington placed them on its list of terrorist organizations and urged nations to help wipe them out by denying them refuge and money.