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Philippine Official Warns of Assassination Threats Before Poll

The Philippine president's national security adviser says communist insurgents are training snipers to assassinate President Gloria Arroyo and other officials, including himself, before a May congressional election.

Norberto Gonzales told foreign correspondents Thursday that insurgents want him and others dead.

He also accused the military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the National People's Army, of funding left-wing politicians to try to win 10 to 15 seats in the upcoming race.

Left-wing politicians deny any links to insurgent groups.

The Philippine government and communist rebels have been fighting for more than 40 years. Peace talks were suspended in 2003.

The National People's Army has about 8,000 fighters. Both Manilla and Washington list it as a terrorist group.

The allegations of possible assassination threats come just days after Mrs. Arroyo signed a new anti-terrorism bill into law.

The law is aimed at fighting militant groups, but human rights groups have voiced concern that the Philippine government could use the legislation against the president's political rivals.

A local human rights group, Karapatan, has accused soldiers of killing at least 830 political, labor and human rights activists since President Arroyo came to power in 2001.

In a recent investigation of the violence, United Nations envoy Philip Alston accused the government of failing to acknowledge the military's involvement.

He also called for a re-evaluation of the government's counterinsurgency strategy and urged it to give leftist groups more political space.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.