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Leading Philippine woman guerrilla arrested

New People's Army rebels drill at an unspecified location in Surigao del Sur province, Mindanao, on December 26, 2009
New People's Army rebels drill at an unspecified location in Surigao del Sur province, Mindanao, in December 2009. Philippine police and troops Sunday captured a woman who is one of the country's most wanted communist guerrillas, officials said.

Philippine police and troops Sunday captured a woman who is one of the country's most wanted communist guerrillas, officials said.

Police said Maria Loida Magpatoc is the secretary of the New People's Army's (NPA) Far South Mindanao Regional Committee, and has oustanding arrest warrants for homicide and destruction of property.

The 52-year-old guerrilla was arrested in a joint military-police operation in the city of Digos on the southern island of Mindanao, local police spokeswoman Chief Inspector Elizabeth Jasmin said in a statement.

No other details of the operation were released.

The national police described Magpatoc as one of the country's "most wanted" insurgents with a reward of 5.6 million pesos ($130,000) offered for her capture.

The NPA is the armed unit of the Communist Party of the Philippines and has been waging a Maoist rebellion since 1969.

The insurgency, one of Asia's longest, has left at least 30,000 dead, the military has said.

The military estimates the rebels now have about 4,000 fighters, down from a peak of roughly 26,000 in the 1980s.

President Benigno Aquino had been aiming to end the rebellion before his six-year term expires in 2016, but the government said in April that peace talks had collapsed.

The government blamed repeated demands by the NPA for comrades to be released from jail, as well as frequent attacks, for the failure of the talks.

Aquino's chief peace adviser, Teresita Deles, said Sunday that in the absence of a ceasefire government forces would continue their crackdown on the rebels.

"Regular law enforcement activities continue against them," she told AFP.

Since the talks bogged down in April, the rebels have intensified their attacks against government targets, leaving at least 40 civilians, policemen and soldiers dead, according to military figures.

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