Jan. 10, 2004 – The Associated Press reports recent fighting between Maoist guerillas and the Philippine army led to the killing of four soldiers and three rebels.
The clashes occurred when some 50 members of the Philippine rebel group, the New Peopleâ€™s Army, reportedly attacked Philippine army soldiers near a power plant south of the capital city of Manila.
The fighting came days after a rebel spokesperson announced more attacks to"punish" the government of Philippine President Gloria Arroyo for "close ties to the United States," reports the AP.
After the September 11 attacks in the US, the thirty-five-year old insurgent group was placed on a State Department list of terrorist organizations. While the New Peopleâ€™s Army opposes US military presence in the region, the rebelâ€™s operations are directed primarily towards overthrowing the Philippine government or removing local drug traffickers. The Arroyo government has been eager to acquire more US help in fighting rebel groups like the New Peopleâ€™s Army. Many analysts speculate the government has attempted to attract such aid by designating the NPA a terrorist organization with alleged international ties, despite a lack of evidence.
Following the late night shoot-out between the Philippine soldiers and rebels near the Calaca power plant, the rebels announced on DZRH radio that the attack was against the army, not the facility itself. New Peopleâ€™s Army spokesman Gregorio Rosal said the attack was part of an effort to "intensify tactical offensives" and to penalize the army for "human rights violations" in the area, reported the AP.
Human rights groups such as Amnesty International have recently condemned the Philippine government for acts of torture, extra-judicial executions, "disappearings" and other abuses committed against activists, journalists and members of muslim or communist insurgency groups.
Philippine Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Lucero disputed Rosalâ€™s statements, telling reporters the rebels "intended to paralyze the livelihood of the people" by causing a blackout on the island of Luzon.