The Philippine military says communist rebels have killed at least 11 soldiers and wounded seven others in a clash with an army patrol in a province south of Manila.

Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato, spokesman for the army’s 2nd Infantry Division, says an army reconnaissance platoon patrolling a village outside Mansalay township in Mindoro Oriental province was ambushed early Saturday by about 60 New People’s Army guerrillas.

He says the soldiers were deployed to the area to prevent the rebels from extorting money from candidates to allow them to campaign for May elections.

It was the army’s biggest loss in a single encounter with the rebels this year.

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