MANILA, Nov 29, (Agencies): Fifteen suspected communist guerrillas including six women have been killed in a gunbattle, the Philippine military said on Wednesday, days after President Rodrigo Duterte called off peace talks.
Duterte last week vowed to go to war with the rebels and threatened to categorise them a “terrorist” group over deadly attacks against soldiers and police. Late Tuesday residents reported seeing armed men boarding a van and a truck in the town of Nasugbu 65 kilometres (40 miles) south of Manila, prompting authorities to send troops, said local military spokesman Colonel Teody Toribio. When soldiers tried to flag down the vehicles on a highway, a gunbattle broke out that left 15 suspected guerrillas dead, including a female university student, while five soldiers were wounded, added Toribio.
One suspect was captured while an undetermined number escaped. Thirteen firearms were recovered, he said. Regional military chief Brigadier General Ernesto Ravina said the operation was “anchored on the pronouncement of the president on the termination of peace talks”. The Communist Party of the Philippines has been fighting since 1968 to overthrow a capitalist system that has created one of Asia’s biggest rich-poor divides.