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Philippine communist rebels declare unilateral Christmas truce

Manila, Dec 7 (IANS) Philippine communist rebels on Friday declared a unilateral Christmas ceasefire, six months after the collapse of peace talks with the government.

In a statement, the central committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines – which will mark its 50th anniversary on December 26 – announced that its armed wing, the outlawed New People’s Army (NPA), will not attack government forces from December 24 to 26 and from December 31 to January 1, 2019, reports Efe news.

“During the days covered by this temporary ceasefire declaration, all units of the NPA and people’s militias shall cease and desist from carrying out offensive military campaigns and operations against uniformed armed personnel,” the statement said.

The ceasefire can be cancelled in the event of a government offensive, or extended if conditions remained positive, it added.

It has been customary for the Philippine government and the communist rebels to declare a Christmas ceasefire since the start of formal talks in the late 1980s.

The current peace negotiations began in August 2016 after President Rodrigo Duterte took office and the two sides had declared a ceasefire that lasted until February 2017, when the rebels unilaterally broke the truce due over disagreements with the negotiations that were being carried out in Oslo, before backing out from the talks in June this year.

The NPA, founded in 1969 and listed as a terrorist organisation by the US and the European Union, is among the oldest Communist guerrilla groups in Asia.

It will turn 50 in 2019, and has some 6,000 regular troops waging a revolutionary armed struggle that has led to more than 40,000 deaths in the last five decades.

–IANS
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