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COTABATO, Philippines - A Filipino soldier was killed and three others wounded in a blast staged by leftist rebels late Friday in the restive southern Philippines, a senior military official said Saturday.
Government troops were dispatched to locate the vehicle of a congressman seized by New People's Army (NPA) rebels earlier on the same day when an explosion occurred in Paquibato District, a known rebel infested area in the southern city of Davao.
Simon Santiago, a rebel spokesman, told reporters that they had seized the vehicle of congressman Norberto Gonzales while on campaign mission in Paquibato.
He added that they had burned all the official's campaign materials and freed two of Nograles staff unharmed.
The NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has been waging a guerrilla campaign in the countryside for four decades. The military estimates the NPA strength at more than 5, 000 men scattered in more than 60 guerrilla fronts throughout the country.
Peace talks between the government and the leftists bogged down in 2004 after the United States included the NPA and its parent body as foreign terrorist organizations.
The military is aiming to defeat the leftist insurgency problem next year based on the directive of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.