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Army Searches for Rebel Fighters

April 21, 1987

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ About 1,000 troops searched today for Communist guerrillas who fled their training camp north of the capital after soldiers overran it, the military said.

Brig. Gen. Eugenio Ocampo, constabulary commander for central Luzon, claimed at least 15 guerrillas of the Communist New People’s Army were killed in three days of fighting in Bulacan province about 15 miles north of Manila.

Ocampo acknowleged the rebel casualty count was based on reports from local civilians and that no bodies were recovered. He said one government trooper was wounded.

The military meanwhile reported that six people were killed Monday in clashes in the central Visayas island chain.

A statement said four soldiers and one civilian were killed and six other people were wounded when rebels raided an army detachment on Negros island. The rebels escaped in two vehicles they commandeered during the raid, the military said.

Another soldier was killed and four others, including a colonel, were wounded when rebels ambushed their jeep on Samar Island, also in the Visayas chain.

At a briefing for reporters, Ocampo said the operation north of Manila began Sunday when troops overran a rebel training camp in the mountain forests near the town of Dona Remedios Trinidad.

On Monday, two Sikorsky helicopters armed with machine guns and rocket launchers blasted rebel positions in the nearby hills after the estimated 300 guerrillas abandoned the camp, Ocampo said.

He said army rangers and Constabulary troopers was searching the area for rebels who escaped.

The general said government forces seized various ″subversive documents″ in the camp, including a list of four mayors and eight other local officials targeted for assassination.

Fighting in the 18-year insurgency increased after a 60-day cease-fire expired Feb. 8. The government and the National Democratic Front, a Communist- dominated umbrella group, broke off peace talks in January because of wide differences.

More than 700 people have been killed so far this year in what the military calls ″insurgency-related incidents.″

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