Eight suspected New People’s Army (NPA) were killed as Army soldiers overran a rebel camp in Miga-ao town yesterday.v “We’re basing the number of the dead on the actual body count at the encounter site,” Brig. Gen. Marion Sison, 301st Infantry Brigade commander, said.

He said there could be more fatalities as government forces are still conducting clearing operations in Barangay Alimodias, a hinterland village 25 kilometers away from the town proper. Citing accounts of witnesses, Sison said up to 20 terrorist could have been killed in the clash.

Sison said government troopers used artillery, land and air assets to locate around 70 rebels who gathered ahead of the 53rd founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines on Dec. 26.

Among those present during the plenum were members of the Southern Front and regional officers of the Komiteng Rehiyon-Panay. “They were planning grand tactical offensives to highlight their celebration,” Sison said.

He said the military planned an operation after receiving information on the gathering three days ago. Authorities are verifying if the leader of the rebel group, Joeven Ceralvo, was among the fatalities.

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