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Top communist rebel arrested in Philippines

MANILA: A top Philippine communist rebel with a $ 128,000 bounty on his head was arrested yesterday, the military said.
The arrest of Filemon Mendrez, the country's sixth most-wanted man, comes as the government and rebels are engaged in high-level peace talks aimed at ending one of Asia's longest-running insurgencies.
Mendrez, a key New People's Army rebel leader, will be held without bail and is due to stand trial, an army statement said.
The Maoist rebels have been waging an armed rebellion to seize power since 1969, and more than 30,000 people have died in the conflict, according to the government. The military estimates the current NPA strength at about 4,000 fighters, significantly down from more than 26,000 at its peak in the late 1980s.
The chief government peace negotiator met his communist counterpart in the Netherlands last week, 13 months after Manila rejected rebel demands that earlier led to the talks being suspended.
Meanwhile, authorities in the Philippines say at least eight people are dead after two separate fires in the capital region. One of the blazes left about 1,500 people homeless when it razed their shantytown.