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8 Filipino troops killed in land mine attacks

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October 21, 2013 04:46 AM EST | AP

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KIDAPAWAN, Philippines — KIDAPAWAN, Philippines (AP) — Communist rebels attacked Philippine troops twice with land mines and gunfire Monday, killing at least eight soldiers and militiamen and wounding four others in the country's south, officials said.

About 50 New People's Army guerrillas detonated a land mine and then opened fire on an army truck, killing seven soldiers and militiamen in a mountainous region in Tulunan town in North Cotabato province, regional army spokesman Lt. Nasrulah Sema said. At the time, the soldiers were on their way to deliver cash allowance of militiamen at a rural outpost.

About an hour later, another truckload of soldiers that was deployed to hunt down the rebels was struck by a land mine and fired upon by the Maoist guerrillas in North Cotabato's Makilala town in a second assault that killed a soldier and wounded four others, Sema said.

The military condemned the rebel use of land mines, saying they also endanger civilians.

Battle setbacks, factionalism and surrenders have reduced the number of armed guerrillas to about 4,000 armed from a peak strength of about 25,000 in the mid-1980s but they remain a major national security threat.

Talks brokered by Norway on ending the 44-year rebellion, one of Asia's longest-running insurgencies, collapsed several years ago due to disagreement over a rebel demand for the release of their jailed comrades.