World

Duterte threatens to end peace talks after communists ambush his military bodyguards

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to end peace talks with communist rebels yesterday, hours after suspected guerrillas wounded four of his military bodyguards in an ambush.

Aides said Mr Duterte, 72, was not in the convoy when gunmen opened fire on two Presidential Security Group vehicles along a highway on the main southern island of Mindanao, where martial law is in effect.

The government blamed the New People's Army, the 4,000-member armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, and threatened to shelve peace negotiations unless the guerrillas stopped targeting soldiers in the south.

"The president directed the government panel... not to resume formal peace talks unless the reds (leftist rebels) agree to stop their attacks against government troops in Mindanao," said a statement issued by the presidential palace.

The latest communist attack came as government forces on Mindanao fought Islamic State group-inspired militants who have been holed up in the southern city of Marawi since May 23.

The communist party, which is waging Asia's longest-running insurgency, called on its armed wing on Tuesday to launch offensives in response to Mr Duterte's plan to put Mindanao under martial law until the end of the year. - AFP

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