Saturday, November 14, 2009
Avoid travel to the Philippines - Communist attack leaves 23 dead
Twenty-three people died in the southern Philippines as communist guerrillas and security forces engaged in one of their most deadly battles in years.
New People's Army (NPA) guerrillas killed 12 people, including eight soldiers and a policeman, when they attacked a logging site on Wednesday in a remote forest on the volatile island of Mindanao.
Eleven rebels were killed in a counter-attack, according to the military, which said the fighting raged over seven hours and left the surviving security forces nearly out of bullets. The clashes near the town of Lanuza were the heaviest engagement of the security forces against the Maoist guerrilla force for at least two years in terms of casualties, based on publicly available records.
Only one other reported firefight since the end of 2007 between the 5,000-member NPA and the security forces led to more than nine deaths. A seven-hour firefight ensued, killing six other soldiers, a policeman and three logging firm guards, it added. Another 10 soldiers, a police officer and the logging company's security chief were wounded in the clashes.
The NPA has been waging an insurgency across the Philippines for the past 40 years. It is believed to have about 5,000 militants, and is well known to raise money through extortion. The military said in September that the communist insurgency had claimed more than 3,000 lives over the past eight years.