Communist rebels attacked army patrols in two mountainous villages of the northern Philippines, killing five soldiers and wounding 10 in the latest flare-up of violence, the military said today.

An army platoon had just finished community humanitarian projects, including construction work and literacy programs, when the rebels opened fire in Abra province yesterday, said army brigade commander Col Essel Soriano.

Five troops were killed and eight wounded in the clash that also left an undetermined number of casualties on the rebel side, he said.

Rebels had fired on another army patrol in a different part of the mountainous province hours earlier, wounding two soldiers, he said.

The latest assaults brought to 10 the death toll among government forces in the Cordillera mountains since last week.

The 40-year rural rebellion to create a communist state in the Philippines has stunted economic development and led to extra-judicial killings and human rights abuses on both sides.

Peace talks between the rebels and the government brokered by Norway collapsed in 2004 after the guerrillas blamed the Philippines for their inclusion on US and European lists of terrorist groups. Both sides have taken steps to resume the talks, but the efforts have been unsuccessful.

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