8 NPA rebels, 1 soldier killed in Compostela Valley clash

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 12) — Eight members of the New People's Army (NPA) and one soldier were killed in a clash in Compostela Valley on Wednesday, the military said.

Troops encountered around 40 NPA rebels at Barangay L.S. Sarmiento in Laak town on Wednesday morning, the Army's 10th Infantry Division said in a statement.

By the end of the fighting, soldiers recovered eight dead bodies on the enemy side, along with high-powered firearms.

The military refused to disclose the name of the fatality on the government side, who died while on the way to the hospital, saying the soldier's family had to be notified first.

"Lt. Col. Ismael Mandanas, commander of 25IB said that they have been receiving reports that the same NPA rebel group will consolidate at Brgy. Casoon to conduct tactical offensives prior to President Duterte's State of the Nation Address (SONA) in compliance to their communist leaders instructions," the statement read.

Casoon in Monkayo town is around 50 kilometers away from Laak. Troops engaged in a firefight with the same group of rebels in Casoon on Monday.

The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines which has waged a 48-year-old insurgency, the longest-running armed rebellion in Asia.

Wednesday's encounter comes even after the National Democratic Front (NDF), which represents rebels in peace talks with the government, urged the NPA to "refrain" from attacking government forces in Mindanao, and focus instead on helping troops flush out terrorists.

President Rodrigo Duterte on July 1 also called for the fighting to stop.

Also read: Duterte to communists: Can we stop fighting for a while?

He declared martial law in Mindanao following clashes between government forces and ISIS-linked Maute group in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur. The communist movement has offered to help the government in its fight.

The government on July 4 announced it will resume peace talks with communist rebels "probably" by the second or third week of August.

Also read: Peace talks with communist rebels to resume August - gov't peace panel