Mon, Jan 09, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Communist guerilla group to be charged over police killings

AP , MANILA

Philippine police yesterday said they would charge communist guerrillas in the killing of a policemen and civilians in a recent assault.

New People's Army guerrillas on Friday killed five policemen and three civilians in a clash on central Masbate island on Friday. They raided a police station in nearby Leyte Province also on Friday, seizing 19 assault rifles and 12 pistols without hurting anybody, according to police.

The clash in Masbate, about 350km southeast of Manila, was the bloodiest since a rebel land mine killed nine army soldiers and wounded 25 others in November in central Iloilo Province.

"Our policemen were just trying to serve their poor countrymen and they were attacked and robbed by the rebels," police spokesman Chief Superintendent Leopoldo Bataoil said.

In an interview with DZBB radio, he described the killings as "inhuman acts."

Investigators were gathering evidence for the filing of cases against the guerrillas and their known leaders, he said.

The military also condemned the attacks, saying these would discourage investors and cause further suffering among impoverished rural folk.

Rebel spokesman Gregorio Rosal said they would continue to escalate attacks on military and police targets and said the civilians who were killed in Masbate were volunteers supporting the police in counterinsurgency operations.

Emboldened by the successful assaults, Rosal said the guerrillas would try to stage an average of five attacks a week this year.

"Now, the military couldn't make its often-repeated claim that we're a spent force," Rosal said.

Rosal said the rebel assaults were aimed at bringing down the government of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who thwarted an impeachment bid by opposition lawmakers on a technicality last year.

The guerrillas are on US and European lists of terrorist organizations. They suspended Norwegian-brokered talks with the government in 2004, saying Manila has refused to protest and take steps to remove them from the terror blacklists.

The rebels, who have been waging a rural-based Marxist rebellion since the late 1960s, number about 7,500, according to the military.

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