2 NPA gunmen killed in Zamboanga clash

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ZAMBOANGA CITY: Security forces killed two suspected communist rebels in a clash in Sibuco, Zamboanga del Norte on Sunday.

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Police said the weekend fighting broke out in the remote village of Panganuran, where military troops also recovered assorted rifle ammunition, camouflage uniforms and anti-government propaganda materials.

Soldiers and military officers also retrieved the bodies of the slain gunmen and turned them over to village officials.

There was no report of casualties on the police and military side.

The fighting coincided with President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement that he is open to resume stalled peace talks with leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NDFP), but will have to discuss this with the police and military.

Duterte scrapped the talks early this year after he failed to convince the rebel peace negotiators to sign a bilateral truce.

CPP-NDF peace negotiators said Duterte must first release some 500 political prisoners, mostly rebel leaders and members, languishing in jails across the country, before they agree on a ceasefire.

The President previously said he could not pursue peace talks with the rebels while they continued attacking government and military and police targets. He also warned of fresh offensives against the New People’s Army (NPA), armed wing of the CPP-NDFP, if they continue the attacks.

Rebels have flatly rejected Duterte’s ceasefire demand, saying doing that wastantamount to surrendering to the government.

“Duterte’s demand for an NPA ceasefire while the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) conduct an all-out war as precondition for peace talks is a demand to surrender. This is unacceptable. Duterte has lost all moral ground to make such a demand,” the CPP said.

The NPA declared a unilateral ceasefire in August last year that lasted nearly 160 days as a res­ponse to Duterte’s commitment to free the prisoners. But it accused Duterte of reneging on a promise to free all political prisoners and grant them amnesty.

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