Rebels declare Christmas ceasefire

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

MANILA -- Communist rebels announced on Wednesday a ceasefire to celebrate Christmas and the 45th founding anniversary of their party.

In a statement, the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines directed the New People's Army to be vigilant against attacks by security forces during the December 24-December 26 and December 31-January 2 ceasefires.

The Maoist party was established on December 26, 1968. Anniversary celebrations typically include a parade by guerrillas and a program with revolutionary songs and speeches in rebel strongholds.

Armed forces spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala said the military welcomed the rebel announcement but questioned the limited period covered.

He said the military has already recommended to the national government a longer ceasefire during the Christmas season.

Communist rebels on central Leyte and Samar islands, which were the worst hit by Typhoon Haiyan, have already declared their own ceasefire up to mid-January because of the devastation caused by last month's storm.

Zagala said the rebels have about 4,000 guerrillas nationwide, including 450 in the area devastated by the typhoon.

The rebels have been fighting in one of Asia's longest-running insurgencies. Talks to end the rebellion have stalled since 2011 due to disagreements between the two sides over the release of several jailed rebel leaders. (AP)

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