Communist rebels bomb plantation in central Philippines

Authorities say communist insurgents planted explosives around plantation after managers refused to pay ‘revolutionary taxes’

Authorities say communist insurgents planted explosives around plantation after managers refused to pay ‘revolutionary taxes’

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - Suspected communist insurgents blasted a plantation in central Negros Occidental province, the Philippines’ military said Monday.

Lt. General John Bonafos, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' Central Command, said the bombing occurred shortly before 9 p.m. Sunday after 15 men in military uniform armed with AK-47 rifles entered the Lopez Sugar Corporation in Escalante City.

Sr. Supt. Milko Lirzazan, director of Negros Occidental Police, said that the armed men introduced themselves as members of the New People's Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

No casualties were reported and witnesses told responding policemen that they later saw the suspects carrying improvised explosive devices (IED).

According to the police report, IEDs were placed in the core laboratory, under a scale and at a crane.

"The rebels took the shotgun and handheld radios of the workers and asked them to leave the area,” the report said. “At around 10:00, the witnesses heard explosions coming from the building.”

Authorities estimated the damage may reach P9 million (over US$ 206,000), and are awaiting a final report from the company.

Investigations also revealed that the NPA had been asking for “revolutionary taxes” from the company, whose management refused.

The NPA is blamed for previous raids on a resort, a mining site and sugarcane plantations in Negros Occidental.

The attack came three days after the arrest of a suspected high-ranking NPA leader at a checkpoint in Negros Oriental late Friday.

The suspect - known as “Pediong” or “Nasyo” – is accused of leading NPA operations in Negros Island’s southeast that had resulted in the death and injury of innocent civilians. He was reportedly involved in the killing of farmer Narciso Bantoto Jr. in Siaton town earlier this year.

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