THREE government troopers were killed and six others were injured in a firefight with communist New People's Army rebels in Las Navas town in Northern Samar, a military official said Friday.

Citing belated reports, 8th Infantry Division spokesperson Major Angelo Gutierrez said the soldiers were attacked by undetermined number of insurgents with the use of a landmine.

Gutierrez said the soldiers from the 34th Infantry Battalion were on security operations when the rebels detonated the bomb around 11:20 a.m. last Tuesday at Bugtosan village.

"The blast was only 700 meters away from populated area," said Gutierrez. After the blast, he said a 25-minute firefight ensued.

After the withdrawal of the rebels, the soldiers recovered at the scene five improvised explosive devices, five electrical blasting caps, 1,500 meters electrical wire and two backpacks.

Gutierrez said the use of landmine runs contrary to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, which the rebels signed with government in 1998.

Major General Jet Velarmino, 8th ID commander, was saddened by the death of the three soldiers.

"Their death will not be forgotten; they died a glorious death in the service of the Nation and the Filipino people. They are the epitome of modern heroes and I salute them," said Velarmino.

"The death of our soldiers will not deter us in pursuing our commitment to win the peace, albeit it adds fire to our desire to do more community services to our people," the official added. (VR/Sunnex)