MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine troops mistakenly killed six policemen and wounded nine others whom they thought were communist guerrillas in the country’s central hinterlands, military and police officials said.
Maj. Gen. Raul Farnacio, a regional military commander, said an army platoon that had been waging a counterinsurgency operation for six days stumbled upon a group of policemen in a remote village in Samar province and the two sides traded gunfire for about half an hour.
An investigation of the “unfortunate incident” was underway, he said.
The communist rebellion, which has raged since 1969, has left about 40,000 combatants and civilians dead and has stunted economic development in the impoverished countryside. The military says a few thousand Maoist insurgents are continuing to wage the insurgency.
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When he took power in 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte resumed peace talks with the guerrillas but canceled the negotiations last year to protest continued guerrilla attacks on troops, and signed an order declaring the rebel group a terrorist organization.
Duterte’s administration agreed to resume the talks, which are brokered by Norway, later this week, but decided to delay the negotiations and the start of a new cease-fire to allow public consultations ahead of a possible breakthrough, officials said.