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5 killed as Philippine troops clash with communist rebels

MANILA, Philippines — Two soldiers and three communist rebels were killed while 15 other troops were wounded in a land mine attack and clashes in the southern Philippine city of Davao, President Rodrigo Duterte's hometown, a military official said Friday.

Maj. Ezra Balagtey, a military spokesman, said soldiers were pursuing the communist New People's Army rebels who on Thursday detonated a land mine along the route of a convoy of troops searching for guerrillas who had set a pineapple farm harvester on fire.

Two soldiers were killed and 15 others were wounded in the blast, while two rebels died in the ensuing firefight, Balagtey said.

Hours earlier, guerrillas harassed an army detachment in another district of Davao city, triggering a clash that left one rebel dead, he said.

Both Duterte and the guerrillas called off earlier this month unilateral cease-fires in the 48-year insurgency, one of Asia's longest-running Marxist rebellions.

Duterte, who describes himself as the country's first left-wing leader, said peace talks brokered by Norway will remain suspended unless there is a compelling reason to restart them that benefits the nation.

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