COMPOSTELA VALLEY- Eight communist rebels and a soldier were killed in a clash in Barangay L.S. Sarmiento in Laak town here Wednesday morning.
Capt. Rhyan Batchar, spokesperson of the Philippine Army's 10th Infantry Division, said the firefight between troops from the 25th and 60th Infantry Battalion and the New People's Army happened after the military received reports that rebel forces were consolidating in Barangay Casoon in Monkayo town.
The rebels, Batchar said, were preparing to attack government troops prior to President Rodrigo Duterte's State of the Nation Address later this month.
The military recovered six high-powered firearms left by fleeing NPA rebels after the encounter.
The military also said Wednesday that NPA rebels disguised as soldiers abducted Cateel police officer PO1 Alfredo Basabica Jr. in Compostela town.
Basabica was on his way home to Davao City on a bus after his duty when he was abducted.
Hot pursuit operations are underway.
The latest encounter happened despite President Rodrigo Duterte's recent call on rebels to halt attacks on government forces to give way to peace negotiations.
Government suspended talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in May citing continuing rebel attacks on state forces.