Philippine troops killed in rebel ambush

A rebel ambush on a Philippine army patrol south of Manila has killed 11 soldiers, a military spokesman said.

A reconnaissance platoon was ambushed by about 60 guerrillas while on patrol outside Mansalay township on Mindoro island, a statement said.

The troops had been sent to the area to stop communist rebels of the New People’s Army extorting money from candidates ahead of May’s elections.

It was the army’s biggest death-toll in battles with the rebels this year.

Colonel Romeo Brawner said seven soldiers were also wounded in a three-hour gun battle, in which a number of rebels were also injured.

“The troops fought it out literally to the last bullet,” said Col Brawner.

He added that reinforcements backed by helicopter gunships had been deployed to track down the rebels, AFP reported.

The armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the NPA has an estimated 5,000 members and has been fighting the government since 1969 in one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies.

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