Leftist rebels attack troops in central Philippines before president visit

By Xinhua,

Manila : Suspected left-wing rebels on Tuesday morning fired at government troops in the Philippines’ central province of Masbate ahead of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s visit there, military officials said.

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About 7:45 a.m. Tuesday local time (1145 GMT Monday ), some soldiers on board a civilian vehicle were fired at by an undetermined number of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Mobo town, said Army 9th Infantry Division spokesman Christopher Morales, quoted by Philippine TV network GMA News.

The town is located about 90 kilometers away from Placer town, where President Arroyo was scheduled to convene a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

The meeting would discuss updates of rehabilitation in areas battered by Typhoon Fengshen and reports from a task force investigating the capsizing of an inter-island vessel on June 21 at the height of the storm.

Morales said no casualties were reported on both sides, even as the troops immediately returned fire against the ambushers.

He said that pursuit operations are on going against the rebel attackers.

Earlier on the same day, a landmine explosion occurred in Placer town. No one was injured in the blast.

The explosion was caused by a vintage bomb that was intentionally detonated by still unidentified persons, said another report. Police are still investigating the incident.

Government troops composed of the military, police, and the Presidential Security Group have beefed up security in Placer town following the incidents, officials said.