AFP. 2 February 2002. Communist insurgents threaten US troops in

MANILA -- A communist insurgent spokesman Saturday warned his forces
were ready to fight US troops in the Philippines but was evasive on an
incident in which a US airforce plane taking part in a military exercise
was fired upon.

Gregorio Rosal, spokesman of the communist New People's Army (NPA), said
in a statement read over the radio that the communist guerrillas were
the next target of US soldiers deployed in the southern Philippines for
joint operations against the Abu Sayyaf Muslim kidnapping group.

"The party and the revolutionary movement is not afraid of these actions
of the imperialists and militarists. The entire party is determined to
crush this and to fight the entry of the US in all its aspects," Rosal
said in comments broadcast by the DZBB radio station.

However when questioned about an incident on Thursday when a US MC-130
plane was hit by two bullets while flying over the northern Philippines
as part of military exercises, Rosal tried to deflect blame from the NPA
which is known to operate in the area.

"It's only the Pentagon which said that a US plane was hit," Rosal said
despite confirmation by local authorities that two M-14 bullets struck
the American plane.

In a separate interview, Press Secretary Noel Cabrera said they were
investigating the shooting, adding that "we're looking at possible
suspects and one of those is the NPA."

But he said that at the moment "there is no basis" to conclude that the
NPA were behind the shooting incident.

Rosal also denied that communist insurgents were behind the incident on
Wednesday when an unidentified person shot dead an American trekker and
wounded his German companion as the two were hiking up Pinatubo volcano
in the northern Philippines.

Rosal said the communist guerrillas were the next target of the
Americans after the Abu Sayyaf, saying that "the US and the (President
Gloria) Arroyo government is just looking for an excuse," to bring US
troops into this country.

"The true purpose of this entry is to justify a bigger and more
dangerous operation of the US. The US will not limit to Basilan and the
Abu Sayyaf, their armed intervention," Rosal said.

Rosal conceded that the majority of Filipinos supported the entry of the
Americans but said this was because they were misinformed by the media.

"The ordinary people think the Americans are helping us. They do not
know the Americans are the number one terrorists," he said.

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Barry Stoller

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