MANILA, Philippines (AP) – Philippine troops have captured a senior communist rebel leader who had received military training in Libya and had a $135,000 bounty for his arrest, a military spokesman said Saturday.
New People’s Army regional chief Benjamin Mendoza and three other suspected insurgents were arrested in the early hours of Saturday outside their hideout in suburban Quezon City, said Col. Generoso Bolina.
Mendoza is a member of the central committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines and also heads a regional party group south of Manila, Bolina said.
One of the other suspects, Josephine Mendoza, is an executive committee member of the regional party group. It was not immediately clear how she is related to the rebel leader, Bolina said.
He said Mendoza underwent commando, heavy weapons, bomb-making and sniper training in Libya in the early 1980s.
Mendoza planned several successful raids and ambushes against soldiers and police, Bolina said. In one raid, guerrillas freed nine detained rebels from a jail in Batangas province south of Manila, he said.
Mendoza, 61, started as a student activist in the 1970s and rose through communist rebel ranks, heading the security unit for the central committee before becoming one of its members.
The 43-year-old communist insurgency is one of Asia’s longest-running. The rebels’ armed force has been reduced from a peak of about 25,000 fighters in the mid-1980s to about 4,000 due to battle losses, surrenders and internal conflicts.
The International Crisis Group, which monitors conflicts around the world, said more than 40,000 rebels, police, soldiers and civilians, have been killed in the fighting.
Peace talks brokered by Norway have been stalled over disagreements between government and rebel negotiators seeking the release of about a dozen other senior party leaders currently held in detention.
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