Friday, December 30, 2005

Philippine Communist Rebels Target American Troops

The Communist Party of the Philippines, in a statement on its 37th anniversary, criticised the US military for increasing intervention in the Philippines. It urged its members to take steps to deter the US from “further plundering” the country.
It called on its armed wing, the New People’s Army, to “study and learn in advance how to inflict casualties on US military personnel” and said the rebels should look forward to “the glorious opportunity” of avenging the deaths of Filipinos killed during the 1898 to 1946 US occupation. The rebels – blacklisted by Washington as a terrorist group – have stepped up their attacks in recent months, killing several Filipino soldiers and wounding dozens more in landmine assaults. There have been no known attacks on American soldiers. US troops have been providing counterterrorism training, weapons and military equipment to Filipino troops battling suspected terrorists and insurgents since 2002, when US special forces worked with the Philippine military to rescue three Americans kidnapped by the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf Muslim extremist group in the southern Philippines. Communist rebels have said Washington’s counterterrorism training also intends to wipe them out. They have warned US troops to stay away from their rural strongholds.
Separately, the communist party ordered an escalation of attacks on government targets and said it wanted to team up with disgruntled policemen and soldiers to try to hasten the downfall of President Arroyo, who has faced calls for her resignation since vote-rigging and corruption allegations surfaced earlier this year. The 115,000-strong police force would consider mounting an offensive to thwart a planned rebel assault, police spokesman Chief Superintendent Leopoldo Bataoil said. “There is an option of a pre-emptive strike if one area would be threatened by the rebels but we’ve not heard of any specific threat so far,” Bataoil said. The Maoist guerrillas, estimated by the military to number about 7500 nationwide, suspended Norwegian-brokered talks with the government last year, saying Manila has done little to remove them from the US list of terror groups.