11 soldiers killed in ambush

Communist rebels kill 11 soldiers and one civilian in the mountain town of Tinoc in Ifugao

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE)- Philippine communist guerrillas killed 11 soldiers and one civilian in an ambush Wednesday, April 25, in the northern mountain town of Tinoc, Ifugao, a military spokesman said.

A three-vehicle Philippine army convoy was attacked by rebels from the New People’s Army, Col. Loreto Maguddayao told AFP.

“Eleven soldiers, including an officer, and one civilian riding with them were killed,” Maguddayao said.

An army captain was among those killed, but the apparent target was the commander of the 86th infantry battalion, Lt Col Eugenio Batara, who was also in the convoy but escaped unhurt, he said.

A civilian who played in the military brass band was also killed, while two other soldiers and another civilian were wounded.

“This is considered one of the most daring attacks by the NPA in this area in recent years,” he said.

The NPA is the armed unit of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which has been waging a rebellion since 1969, in one of Asia’s longest running communist insurgencies.

The government last year boasted it had decimated the NPA ranks in the northern mountain regions due to successes on the battlefield and effective community work that turned villagers against the rebels.

Across the Philippines, the military said the NPA’s strength has fallen to just over 4,000 fighters as of 2011 from over 26,000 at the peak of its strength in the 1980s.

Firefight is still going on as of posting time, according to Nolcom.

Nolcom is also monitoring the standoff in Scarborough Shoal between Manila and Beijing. The Shoal is off the coast of Zambales, which is under Nolcom’s jurisdiction. – with reports from Agence France-Presse