ZAMBOANGA CITY: Five government soldiers were wounded in a clash with communist rebels in the province of Zamboanga del Sur, officials said. Captain Jefferson Somera, a spokesman for the 1st Infantry Division, said most of the wounded soldiers were hit by shrapnel from a landmine explosion set off Tuesday afternoon by New People’s Army rebels in the village of Dagum in Lakewood town. He said troops, from the 53rd Infantry Battalion, clashed with about 50 rebels. “The fighting lasted for two hours,” he said, adding a still undetermined number of rebels were either killed or wounded in the clash. Lt. Col. Victor Tangawohn, commander of the 53rd Infantry Battalion, said the soldiers were patrolling the village following reports from civilians that rebels were frequently visiting houses in the area. There was no immediate statement from the NPA, but the rebel group has been fighting for decades now for the establishment of a separate state in the country.
    Al Jacinto