CAMP DANGWA, Benguet -- Five more soldiers died in an attack in Abra days after communist rebels killed another five in Bontoc, Mountain Province.

The communist rebels ambushed members of the Philippine Army's 41st Infantry Battalion on foot patrol in a forested area in Barangay Mataragan in rebel-infested Malibcong town around 4 p.m. Sunday, killing on the spot Privates First Class (PFCs) Robert Lobhoy, Saldivar Anno, Honey Mateo, Angelo Calderon, and Santiago Decena.

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Regional police intelligence chief Alexander Pumecha said despite the attacks, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are ready for the May elections. A heightened alert is now up for the election hot spots like Abra.

Eight more were wounded in the attack. The victims were Private First Class Ronel Villanueva, Manny Marcos, Neceson Gemino, Alfredo Ganongan, Abraham Bobis, Billy Ray Noblado, Conrado Torres, and Private Brainard Dumondon.

Government casualties were airlifted to the Abra Provincial Hospital before noon Monday.

Lieutenant Colonel Ignacio Madriaga, commander of the 41st IB, said his men were supposed to continue their "community relations activities" in various barangays of Malibcong when fired upon by the rebels.

Just a few hours before the bloody attack, two soldiers identified as Privates First Class Jason Pantaleon and Jayson Grutas were wounded when the rebels also attacked the troops in Barangay Kili, Tubo town, also a rebel-infested area in Abra. The incident occurred around a.m. Sunday.

Air Force helicopters that earlier backed up ground troops pursuing rebels in Mountain Province pursued the fleeing insurgents immediately after the twin attacks. (Maria Elena Catajan)