Maoists attack soldiers delivering typhoon relief aid

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MANILA Maoist rebels attacked soldiers delivering relief aid to parts of the central Philippines, where a typhoon killed at least 32 people, army and disaster officials said yesterday.

Typhoon Kai-tak, which triggered landslides and floods in the deadliest storm to hit the country this year, also left 46 people missing.

Military spokesman Colonel Edgard Arevalo said two soldiers were wounded when about 50 rebels of the New People's Army (NPA), the military arm of a communist movement, fired on a convoy of troops carrying relief aid on Samar island on Saturday.

The NPA has yet to comment on the accusation and it was not possible to contact the group due to power outages and disrupted communications.

The Philippines has not declared a Christmas truce with the rebels for the first time in three decades after President Rodrigo Duterte halted peace talks and this month designated the NPA a terrorist organisation.

"(The attacks) only validated the aptness of the government's decision to terminate the peace negotiations and to discontinue the traditional Christmas truce," Col Arevalo said.

The 3,000-member Maoist rebel forces have been waging a protracted guerrilla warfare for nearly 50 years in a conflict that has killed more than 40,000 people and stunted growth in resource-rich rural areas. The NPA guerrillas have been targeting mines, plantations and other businesses, demanding "revolutionary taxation" to finance arms purchases and recruitment.

Ms Mina Marasigan, spokesman for the national disaster risk reduction and management council, called on the NPA to halt the violence.

"This is not an armed conflict," she said, adding the rebels should let "relief work to go unhampered".- REUTERS