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Philippine Troops Clash With Communists, Islamic Rebels


The Philippine military says government troops killed 18 communist rebels Tuesday in the north of the country, in one of the deadliest battles of recent months.

Officials say Philippine soldiers attacked a base of the New People's Army outside Santa Ignacia town in Tarlac province, triggering a gunfight that lasted several hours.

The N.P.A. has been waging a Marxist rebellion against the government since the late 1960s. Peace talks between the two sides were suspended two years ago, after the United States blacklisted the N.P.A. as a terrorist organization.

In a separate incident, the Philippine military says it killed four Islamic separatists who staged an attack on government troops in the southern province of Maguindanao.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front denied it started the fight, and said only one separatist was killed. The rebel group warned the incident could undermine peace talks with the Philippine government, due to take place next week in Kuala Lumpur.

Information for this report is provided by AP and AFP.

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