MANILA // Communist rebels killed eight police officers in the central Philippines and took their weapons and uniforms in an ambush today as they escalated attacks against security forces, police said. The New People's Army guerrillas killed a local council member in Northern Samar province's Catarman township, then lay in wait for soldiers or police to respond, said a regional police commander, Chief Superintendent Arnold Revilla.
They planted explosives and took up ambush positions on a road into the village. When a police truck carrying the officers passed by, the rebels set off a land mine then fired on the officers in the burning vehicle, killing all eight, Chief Superintendent Revilla said. The rebels seized seven pistols and four assault rifles from the murdered officers, who were also stripped of their uniforms, he said.
Unexploded mines have been recovered along the road. The Maoist rebels, who have been waging a 41-year-old insurgency, have become more active in recent months, attacking remote military and police outposts to seize badly needed weapons. Last month, the rebels ambushed soldiers on an army truck in Bontoc township in northern Mountain Province, killing seven and seizing their firearms. Peace talks brokered by Norway have been suspended since 2004 after the rebels accused the government of instigating their movement's inclusion on US and European terrorist lists.
The Communist Party of the Philippines said in a statement last month that the rebels were willing to resume formal talks with the new government of president Benigno Aquino III. The Aquino government has not yet formed its peace negotiating panel. * AP