12 leftist rebels, gov't militiaman killed in S Philippine clash: military

08:12, August 02, 2011      

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Twelve New People's Army (NPA) rebels and a government militiaman died following skirmishes at the boundary of Kauswagan and Loreto towns in the southern Philippine province of Agusan del Sur on Sunday, a military spokesman said Monday.

Maj. Eugenio Julio Osias, spokesman of the military's 4th Infantry Division and commander of the 4th Civil Military Operations Battalion, said the fighting was so fierce that helicopter gunships were dispatched to support the engaged troops.

The 402nd Brigade were dispatched to the area on Sunday following reports from civilian informants about the presence of about 100 rebels at their community in Sto Nino village, Osias said, adding the rebels were engaged by the government troopers starting around 8:50 a.m.

With the large number of the rebels, Osias said, government forces reinforced while two MG-520 attack helicopters and Huey helicopters were also dispatched to provide close-air support to the engaged soldiers.

He said the fighting lasted for about two hours, resulting in the death of a government militiaman who served as the guide for the soldiers.

On the rebels side, Osias said they have information that at least 12 died -- four of them were reportedly in the village while eight others were supposedly buried by their comrades.

"This is subject for verification but this was report by troops on the ground ... Our intelligence operatives are looking for them because even if these are rebels, we have to provide them with descent burial," said Osias.

The NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has been waging a guerrilla campaign in the countryside for more than four decades. The Philippine military estimates that there are over 4,000 NPA guerrilla fighters scattered in more than 60 provinces throughout the country.

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