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Three leftist rebels killed in clash in S. Philippine

(Xinhua)

13:56, March 12, 2012

COTABATO, Philippines, March 11 (Xinhua) -- Philippine government soldiers have killed at least three leftist rebels and wounded seven others during a clash in the country's restive south, an army official said Sunday.

The government soldiers under 68th Infantry Battalion were patrolling Saturday afternoon when they encountered some 50 New Peoples Army rebels in Batang village, North Cotabato province, said Prudencio Asto, public affairs chief of the army's 6th Division.

A three-hour firefight ensued, leaving three guerrillas dead and seven others wounded, according to Asto.

"Hundreds of families have fled for fear of their safety. The rebels only withdrew when we used howitzers," Asto said, adding there were no reported casualties on the government side.

The NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has been waging a guerrilla campaign in the countryside for four decades. Military estimates the NPA strength at more than 4,000 men scattered in more than 60 guerrilla fronts throughout the country.

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