Rebels bomb mobile phone tower in Philippines

Suspected communist guerrillas in the Philippines blasted a cell phone transmission tower with dynamite in a central province after its owner refused extortion demands, disrupting mobile phone services in nearby communities, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said army troops and police were hunting the suspected New People's Army guerrillas, who attacked the telecommunications tower owned by Globe Telecom in Iloilo province's Tubungan township, according to police chief superintendent Wilfredo Dulay.

The rebels, armed with automatic rifles and grenades, disarmed two guards and barged into a compound housing the steel tower before midnight, the official said.

They doused the facility with gasoline, including a huge power generator, then exploded dynamite sticks, he said.

The two guards were not harmed, Dulay said.

About 40 towers of Globe Telecom, one of the country's largest mobile phone service providers, have been destroyed by the rebels in the last five years because of the company's refusal to pay so-called 'revolutionary taxes,' company spokesman Jones Campos was quoted by the Associated Press report as saying.

A sharp rise in rebel attacks has prompted President Arroyo to order security forces to cut the 7,000-strong guerrillas force in half by 2010, the report further said.