Leftist rebels kill 2, occupy highway in S. Philippines

Updated: 2010-05-05 11:38
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DAVAO CITY, the Philippines - Philippine leftist rebels have stepped up attacks against government troops, killing a militiaman and his wife in an ambush and occupying a national road in the country's south in the run-up to the country 's elections barely a week away, the military said on Wednesday.

Some 200 New People's Army gunmen poured into the national highway in Monkayo town, in Mindanao's Compostela Valley province before dawn on Wednesday, stopping motorists and putting up a checkpoint, Aaron Aquino, Compostela Valley police chief, said.

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Aquino told Xinhua the rebels immediately fled to the hilly villages bordering Compostela Valley and Agusan del Sur. Police and soldiers were already sent to pursue the guerrillas.

"We are still investigating and gathering more pieces of information regarding this incident," Aquino said.

In Surigao del Sur province, also in Mindanao, gunmen believed to be New People's Army (NPA) rebels on Tuesday opened fire on a motorcycle along a road, killing two and wounding a nine-year old child.

Michel Anayron, a regional military spokesperson, said those killed included a 53-year old member of the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) paramilitary and his 49-year old wife.

The victims were traveling on a motorcycle driven by the couple's 20-year old son in a village in Hinatuan town at 2 p.m. when gunmen appeared on the side of the road and peppered them with bullets, police said.

The driver was able to scamper off unhurt, police said.

Police and military officials have warned of the escalation of NPA atrocities as Filipinos will be voting on Monday in the country's first automated elections.

The 5,000-strong NPA has been waging a 40-year rebellion. The military has accused them of profiteering in the elections by extorting candidates and businesses.