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Communist rebels raiding typhoon relief convoys: police


Communist insurgents in the Philippines have attacked military convoys bringing aid to victims of a recent typhoon, killing one soldier in the latest ambush, police said Thursday.

The incidents came just before a Christmas truce called by the rebels took effect on Wednesday.

In the latest incident on Tuesday, guerrillas of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) ambushed an army truck on a relief mission in the storm-hit eastern island of Samar, national police said in a statement. One soldier was killed and two wounded in the attack.

The police condemned the attack, saying the rebel movement “has evolved from an ideological revolutionary group to one conducting acts of banditry out of desperation”.

The attack followed an earlier NPA ambush of a military truck carrying relief goods for storm victims in Samar last week, which wounded two soldiers.

The impoverished island of Samar, located almost 530 kilometres (325 miles) southeast of Manila, was one of the areas hardest hit by Typhoon Melor when it struck the country last week, killing at least 45 people.

The island is also a stronghold of the NPA who have been waging a 46-year-old rebellion that has claimed about 30,000 lives by official estimates.

The insurgents are now estimated to number fewer than 4,000. The military said the group sustains itself by extorting from businesses.

Repeated efforts by successive governments to arrange peace talks have failed to end the rebellion.

Recently, the communists declared a unilateral ceasefire for Christmas, from December 23 to January 3.

The government separately called a similar ceasefire for Christmas, one of the most important holidays for largely-Catholic nation.

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