Rebel landmine injures seven soldiers in central Philippines

MANILA, PHILIPPINES (AP) — A landmine planted by suspected Communist guerrillas injured seven soldiers in the central Philippines on Tuesday, in one of the first known attacks by insurgents since President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. took office. last week.

Army troops verify villagers’ reports of landmines laid by rebels of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, along a village pathway in the town of Mapanas, in Northern Samar province, when an explosion injured soldiers, regional army commander Major General Edgardo de Leon said.

Two of the injured soldiers were in critical condition, he said, adding that no villagers were injured.

“Some of the soldiers were thrown out because the rebels used very powerful landmines,” de Leon said.

The government will file criminal complaints against rebel leaders for attacking and using internationally banned types of landmines, de Leon told reporters.

The soldiers were unable to open fire on the rebels, who fled after the attack and were being chased by government forces, he said.

Last Friday, a day after Marcos Jr was sworn in after winning a landslide victory in May 9 elections, government troops assaulted eight communist rebels, killing one, in a brief firefight in the central province of Negros Oriental , the army said. Marcos Jr has to deal with communist and extremist insurgencies that have been going on for decades.

During his campaign, he said he would continue peace talks with communist insurgents and expressed support for a government task force created under his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, to fight the insurgency by bringing plans to infrastructure, housing and livelihoods in poor rural areas.

The task force has drawn criticism for linking several left-wing activists and government critics to the communist insurgency, in what Duterte’s opponents have called baseless “red flagging” aimed at muzzling legitimate dissent.

Despite battle setbacks, infighting and factionalism, the Communist insurgency has continued to rage, mostly in rural areas, for more than half a century in one of Asia’s oldest rebellions.

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