DAVAO CITY, Philippines, July 19 (Xinhua) -- At least seven people were killed during an attack launched by leftist rebels against a militia outpost in southern Philippines early Friday, military said later that day.
Six members of the leftist rebel group of New People's Army ( NPA) and one pro-government militiaman died in the fighting which erupted about 5 a.m. at a Citizen Armed Auxiliary detachment in Banag-banag village, Sibagat, a town in Southern Philippine province of Agusan del Sur, said Major Leo Bongosia, spokesperson for the Philippine Army's 4th Infantry Division.
Bongosia told Xinhua by text message that at least 40 NPA gunmen assaulted the hinterland outpost, but they failed to take the installation which was defended by equal number of local militiamen.
Two MG-520 attack helicopters from the Philippine Air Force were sent to the area, firing rockets against the rebels, forcing them to withdraw after over an hour of fighting, he said.
The military spokesperson said villagers saw retreating rebels dragging at least half a dozen dead bodies of their comrades, and he believed dozens more could have been killed or wounded in the aerial bombardment.
Bongosia said pursuit operation was now launched against the fleeing rebels.
The 4, 000-strong NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has been fighting a leftist insurgency in 60 Philippine provinces since 1969.