MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A landmine planted by suspected communist guerrillas wounded 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. pass.
Army troops were reviewing villagers’ reports of anti-personnel mines laid by New People’s Army rebels along a path in the village of Mapanas in Northern Samar province when an explosion wounded the seven soldiers, he said. the commander of the regional army, Major General Edgardo de León.
Two of the wounded soldiers were in critical condition, he said, adding that no villagers were injured.
“Some of the soldiers were thrown out because the rebels have been using really powerful landmines,” de Leon said.
The government will file criminal complaints against the rebel leaders for attacking and using internationally prohibited types of landmines, de León told reporters.
Soldiers were unable to open fire on the rebels, who fled after the attack and were being pursued by government forces, he said.
On Friday, a day after Marcos Jr. took office after winning a landslide victory in the May 9 elections, government troops attacked eight communist rebels, killing one, in a brief firefight in the central province of Negros Oriental, the army said.
Marcos Jr. must deal with decades-old communist and Muslim insurgencies, along with long-running territorial disputes with China and other claimants in the South China Sea.
During the campaign, he said he would continue peace talks with communist insurgents and voiced support for a government task force established by his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, to fight the insurgency by carrying out infrastructure, housing and livelihood projects. to rural areas affected by poverty.
The task force has drawn criticism for linking a number of leftist activists and government critics to the communist insurgency, in what Duterte’s opponents said was an unfounded “red tag” aimed at silencing legitimate dissent.
Despite the setbacks of battles, infighting and factionalism, the communist insurgency has raged, mostly in rural areas, for more than half a century in one of Asia’s oldest rebellions. It currently has an estimated 2,700 armed combatants.
The new president is the son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, whose counterinsurgency program was known for the murders, torture and disappearances of suspected rebels, leftist activists and their supporters.
Marcos Sr. was overthrown in 1986 in a pro-democracy uprising by army-backed “People’s Power” that drove him and his family into American exile.
After Marcos died in Hawaii in 1989, his widow and children returned to the Philippines, where they made a stunning political comeback by whitewashing the family’s image on social media, critics say.
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