Mon, Jan 05, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Eight people hurt in grenade blast in southern Philippines

AP AND DPA , MANILA AND COTABATO CITY, PHILIPPINES

Communist guerrillas ambushed a patrol car east of Manila killing a policeman and leaving three officers missing, officials said yesterday.

The New People’s Army ambush on Saturday near Rodriguez town in Rizal Province, about 40km east of Manila, was the latest skirmish in the decades-old Marxist rebellion, and among the closest attacks to the Philippine capital.

About 60 rebels detonated a land mine then opened fire with rifles and grenade launchers on a passing patrol car carrying six policemen near the village of Macabud, police chief Senior Superintendent Ireneo Dordas said.

One policeman was killed instantly and two were wounded in a brief exchange of fire, he said by telephone.

Three policemen were missing and believed taken captive by the rebels. The guerillas torched the police car before fleeing, Dordas said, and an army and police search for the officers was under way.

The communist rebellion began in the late 1960s and reached its peak in the mid-1980s when the number of guerrillas reached 26,000.

Since then, the rebels’ ranks have thinned to about 5,000.

Chief Superintendent Fidel Cimatu, a regional police chief, said the victims were immediately rushed to hospital and treated for shrapnel wounds.

“We cannot say yet who was responsible,” Cimatu said.

On Wednesday, 30 people were injured when two suspects lobbed a grenade at a free concert in a plaza in nearby General Santos City.

Peace talks brokered by Norway stalled in 2004 when the guerrillas accused the Philippine government of campaigning to persuade the US to add them to its list of terrorist organizations.

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