MANILA, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- The death toll in the running gun battle between government security forces and suspected communist rebels in northern Philippines on Saturday climbed to six, the military said on Sunday.
A military report said that the clashes that started around 2:00 p.m. local time on Saturday and ended early Sunday morning in Santa Lucia town near Candon City in Ilocos Sur province resulted in the killing of five New People's Army (NPA) rebels and an army soldier.
Quoting witnesses, the report added that villagers who were caught in the crossfire "were fired upon by the NPA (rebels) and suffered multiple injuries."
The report said the bodies of the two NPA rebels were recovered on Saturday, while three more bodies were recovered on Sunday morning.
Troops also recovered four M16 assault rifles, two M14 rifles, one cal. 45 pistol, one 9mm pistol, one shotgun, three grenades, and six homemade bombs, including detonating devices and wires, the report said.
The report added that troops also recovered 15 mobile phones, assorted medicines and documents from the encounter sites.
According to the report, the wounded troops and civilians are in stable condition and are now recuperating at a local hospital.
The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
The NPA rebels have been fighting the government since 1969. On and off talks to end the decades-old insurgency that have killed thousands stalled again last year. Enditem