Philippine police kill ′communist rebels′ during weapons raids | News | DW | 31.03.2019
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Philippine police kill 'communist rebels' during weapons raids

Police in the Philippines say they have shot and killed a group of suspected rebels. Rights groups have claimed the men who died were mainly elderly farmers and have slammed the "massacre."

Philippine police said on Sunday that 14 suspected communist rebels were killed after they opened fire on officers conducting weapons raids. Rights groups said the victims were all farmers, some elderly.

What happened?

  • The men were killed during three separate incidents in the central Philippine island of Negros.
  • Police said dozens of officers, backed by army troops, has been conducting home searches for unlicensed firearms on Saturday when the 14 men violently fought back. 
  • Fifteen other suspects were arrested during the raids, police said.
  • Negros is home to the country's wealthiest landowners and its poorest farm workers.

Read more: Duterte plans anti-communist 'death squad' in Philippines

Condemnation: Human rights and farmers' groups slammed the killings and called for an independent investigation. They say six farmers were killed and more than 50 others arrested in similar police raids in December.

Killings rising: An official from rights group Karapatan described the violence as a massacre on farmers asserting their rights to land. The agricultural workers' federation said the deaths highlighted growing rights violations on Negros. The Philippine rights body expressed "grave concern" over what it called a rising number of killings.

Insurgency: Police denied the 14 men killed were victims of extrajudicial killings. Aside from illegal firearms, police said they were looking for guerrillas from the communists' armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), suspected of attacks on police officers. 

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Communist guerrillas have waged one of Asia's longest-running insurgencies in the Philippines. About 40,000 combatants and civilians have been killed in the violence. It has also stunted economic growth, handed the military greater powers and unleashed a cycle of human rights abuses.      

Read more: Philippines withdrawal does not protect Rodrigo Duterte from ICC

kw/jlw (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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