From: "Stasi" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
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Subject: [Peoples War] Phillipines: NPA May Have Fired on U.S. Plane:
Philippine Military  - Xinhua

Rebels May Have Fired on U.S. Plane: Philippine Military
=======================================
Xinhuanet 2002-02-01 15:45:34

  MANILA, February 1 (Xinhuanet) -- Members of a rebel group may have
fired upon a U.S. military exercise aircraft in the northern Philippines,
Philippine military sources said Friday after the Pentagon revealed one of
its planes had been hit by small-arms fire.

  The Philippine Daily Inquirer online news quoted an anonymous military
official as saying that the shooting took place in the northern province of
Abra where the New People's Army (NPA) rebelsare known to be active.

  However, the official stressed they were still investigating the
incident and trying to determine precisely when and where the shooting
occurred and what type of firearm was used.

  Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis has announced in Washington that a U.S.
Air Force MC-130 came under fire Thursday while conducting a low-level
training mission of the joint exercises with the Philippine military in a
mountainous area on the biggest Philippine island of Luzon.

  The aircraft, which was hit by at least two bullets, returned safely to
Clark Air Base in Luzon and no one was injured in the incident, Davis said.

  The aircraft was taking part in "Balance Piston," a joint
U.S.-Philippine military exercise in Luzon, focusing on counter-terrorism,
he said.

  Some 660 American soldiers are arriving the southern Philippines to
train local troops to hunt down the Abu Sayyaf kidnapping group that
allegedly has links with the terrorist network of Osama bin Laden.

  The NPA has previously threatened to attack any U.S. soldiers who enter
their so-called territories during the joint operations with local troops.

  The NPA has also originally been suspected of killing an American
trekker and wounding his German friend in an ambush near Pinatubo volcano in
the northern Philippines on Wednesday.

  However, police later said there were conflicting accounts thatthe
shooting may have been carried out by a local tribesman with ahomemade rifle
for reasons that remain unclear.

  Philippine officials have repeatedly stressed that American soldiers
taking part in the joint operations in the south will notengage in actual
combat and will only advise and train local troops.

  Philippine Defense Secretary Gen. Angelo Reyes Friday said Filipino
commanders would be running the show in the ongoing jointmilitary exercises
in the southern Philippines but said the Americans have the right to "defend
themselves" in an encounter.

  "The right to self-defense is universal, we're talking here of
survival," the Philippine Daily Inquirer online news quoted Reyes as saying.

  "They will not get involved in fighting the Abu Sayyaf," he added.

  The at least six-month military exercise, which entered its first phase
Thursday, is aimed at combating the Abu Sayyaf group which is holding two
American and one Filipino hostages. Enditem




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