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12 killed in Philippine army clash with rebels

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — At least seven soldiers and five communist rebels were killed in a clash early Saturday in a northern Philippine province, the military said.

The soldiers were on a counter-insurgency patrol in Isabela province's San Guillermo township when they ran into 30 New People's Army guerrillas, triggering a clash in which six soldiers were immediately killed, said army spokesman Col. Cirilito Sobejana.

He said another soldier died in the hospital, leaving eight government troops wounded. Eight guerrillas also were wounded.

He said the number of rebel casualties was based on field reports and that no bodies of guerrillas were recovered.

Manila's DZMM radio station quoted a rebel spokesman saying they gave first aid to the wounded soldiers before escaping.

The rebels have been waging a Maoist insurgency for more than 40 years. Their ranks have thinned from a peak of about 25,000 in the mid-1980s to about 4,000 due to casualties, surrenders and factionalism.

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Peace talks brokered by Norway have stalled after rebel negotiators demanded that the government release several detained leaders.

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