Troops pursue commies in Zambo Sur

The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper - - News - (With a report from Ely Dumaboc)

PAGADIAN CITY – Army troops continue to pursue the New People’s Army rebels in Zamboanga del Sur province where the separatist group is actively operating.

Just last week, three people were killed in a clash between military forces and communist rebels in Supon village in Bayog town after patrolling soldiers chanced upon a group of NPA fighters, sparking a running gun battle.

Two rebels and a militiaman were killed in the battle and officials said troops recovered an M16 automatic rifle and antigovernment propaganda, including a medical kit from the slain insurgents.

The bodies of the rebels were also recovered by soldiers. The fighting occurred ahead of the resumption of peace talks this month between the Duterte government and communist leaders in Oslo, Norway.

There was no immediate statement from the NPA on the latest clashes, but it is unlikely to affect the resumption of the stalled peace talks.

Last month, six policemen and two civilians were also wounded in a suspected rebel attack outside a police station in Sarangani’s Maasim town also in southern Philippines.

The attack coincided with continuing military operations in the province – a known stronghold of insurgents in the troubled region.

Peace adviser Jesus Dureza last month held talks with communist leader Jose Maria Sison in Oslo to discuss the resumption of stalled talks.

Dureza said the formal peace talks are expected to discuss the affirmation of previously signed agreement, the timeline of the talks, and reconstitution of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees list, and amnesty proclamation for the release of all detained political prisoners and NDFP consultants and the mode of interim ceasefire, among others.

Government peace talks with the NPA collapsed in 2004 after rebels accused then President Gloria Arroyo of reneging on several agreements, among them the release of all political prisoners in the country and the removal of the terrorist tag on the Communist Party of the Philippines and its political wing, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, and the NPA.

Arroyo also suspended the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees after the peace talks failed.

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