Two people were killed on Sunday when a roadside bomb allegedly planted by communist rebels exploded when they ran over it while cycling in the eastern Philippines, police said.
A 16-year-old boy was also injured in the blast in Masbate City, 378 kilometres south-east of Manila, said Ma. Luisa Calubaquib, a regional police spokeswoman.
The boy’s 40-year-old father and his 21-year-old cousin were killed in the explosion.
“It was an accident,” Calubaquib said. “They ran into the improvised explosive device reckleslessly planted by communist rebels.”
“Their targets are probably the uniformed personnel,” she added, referring to soldiers and policemen. “No other group would do this but the NPA,” she said, referring to the New People’s Army.
The NPA is the armed wing of the rebel Communist Party of the Philippines, which has been fighting the government since the late 1960s, making it one of the longest-running leftist insurgencies in Asia.
Additional forces have been deployed in Masbate City to hunt down the suspects, Calubaquib said.
A group of police officers and soldiers clashed with guerrillas in the nearby village of Mapina almost six hours after the bomb explosion, but no casualties were reported.
Calubaquib said troops recovered homemade bombs and parts used to build explosives after the firefight.
Peace talks between the Philippine government and the communist rebles ended in November 2017 and attacks by the guerrillas have continued unabated.
Efforts to resume the negotiations have so far failed.