MANILA – Two rebels with the communist New People’s Army were killed in a clash with soldiers on the island of Mindanao, located in southern Philippines, the country’s armed forces said on Monday.
Around 10 NPA fighters clashed on Sunday with soldiers of the 401st Infantry Brigade, who were carrying out a counter-terrorism operation in Bunawan in eastern Mindanao, Philippine Armed Forces spokesperson Restituto Padilla told EFE.
After the shootout, which lasted 25 minutes, the troops found the bodies of two guerrillas and two AK-47 rifles belonging to the guerrilla group, considered a terrorist organization by the Philippines, the United States and the European Union.
In another incident on Sunday, three NPA rebels were handed over to the authorities in Santa Cruz on the island of Luzon, the biggest island in northern Philippines.
These incidents come at a moment of tensions between the government of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and the illegal Communist Party of the Philippines (of which the NPA is an armed wing), led by 78-year-old Jose Maria Sison, who lives in exile in the Netherlands.
At an official event last week, Duterte, known for his controversial statements, urged soldiers to shoot female communist rebels in the vagina, while in another speech he promised a bounty for each communist rebel killed by his forces.
The Philippine leader restarted peace talks with the communist rebels after taking office in 2016 but after the negotiations failed, the NPA was put back on the list of terrorist organizations in December 2017 and clashes between both sides were renewed.