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Philippines

Philippine communist rebels hijack bus, four people die

Jolle via Wikimedia Commons

Four people were killed Wednesday in a high-speed chase and gun battle in the Philippines after communist rebels hijacked a bus. Also on Wednesday, government negotiators were meeting in Hong Kong to try to restart stalled peace talks.

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Members of the New People's Army (NPA) boarded the bus near San Francisco town, 200km south of Manila, and ordered the driver to go to an area under their control.

Police and military officers went after the bus, which was stopped at an army checkpoint, according to provincial police chief Superintendent Erickson Velasquez in a statement which did not indicate how long the chase lasted or how many people were on the bus.

The rebels fought back and four people were killed in the ensuing gun battle. Two people were wounded.

The NPA is the armed unit of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which has been fighting the government since 1969, when authoritarian ruler Ferdinand Marcos won a second term as president. Current President Benigno Aquino has called for peace and negotiators were to meet Wednesday to restart talks that have stalled since 2004.

It is unclear how the bus hijacking could affect the talks, as negotiators were not immediately available for comment.

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