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Philippines condemns rebel landmine attack

DAVAO, November 29, 2011 (AFP) - Philippine officials on Tuesday angrily condemned communist insurgents for using a landmine to kill three soldiers, saying the attack violated an accord banning the use of such devices.

The military said the soldiers were engaged in a community assistance project on the outskirts of the southern city of Davao Tuesday when the landmine went off, killing them.

"We condemn the use of landmines. We are a signatory to (the landmine ban), the NPA (New People's Army) knows that and yet they continue with the impunity of using landmines," President Benigno Aquino's spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

The attack was a violation of an accord signed by the government and the communist insurgents in 1998, banning both sides from using landmines as part of peace negotiations, the military said.

In recent years, the communist NPA has defended its use of such weapons, saying they were set off by remote-control and should not be considered as landmines.

The Philippine government signed a global agreement against the use of landmines in 1997.

The communists have waged a Maoist rebellion since 1969, carrying out attacks mostly in remote rural areas in the countryside, with the insurgency having claimed thousands of lives.

Although the government has held on-and-off peace negotiations with the rebels since 1986, the latest round of talks hit a deadlock in November when Manila refused their demand to free captured insurgent leaders.

The NPA is estimated to number fewer than 5,000, based mostly in the rural areas of this impoverished archipelago.

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