MANILA, Philippines – Philippine police clashed with communist rebels, killing five people and wounding three on the same day the insurgents fatally shot a security guard for an American-owned gold mining company, officials said Friday.
The renewed violence came three months after the New People's Army rebels and the government reopened intermittent talks to resolve one of Asia's longest-running Marxist rebellions. But they have repeatedly failed to agreed on a truce.
In a first attack Thursday, about 60 guerrillas flagged down four motorcycle-riding security guards on a remote mining road in the southern Philippines and seized their assault rifles and radios, police chief Aaron Aquino of Compostela Valley province said.
Aquino said one of the guards working for Russell Mining & Minerals Inc. apparently resisted and was fatally shot.
Private security guards are not authorized to carry assault rifles, and police have repeatedly warned that such weapons attract rebels, Aquino said.
In a separate clash in northern Cagayan province, police said they engaged the rebels in a gunfight for almost two hours, killing five and wounding three insurgents. Another one was captured while two officers were wounded, police said.
The rebels have warned that they will launch fresh attacks against mining and logging companies, accusing them of taking land from peasants and indigenous people.
The New People's Army have fought for a Marxist state for decades and are listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and EU governments. The military estimates their strength at several thousand fighters.
The instability has stunted economic development in rural areas. The rebels have survived by raiding remote police and army posts to snatch weapons and extorting money from businesses in areas where they operate.