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The Peace Corps said Wednesday it is pulling all 261 of its volunteers out of the Philippines and suspending work there due to fears that Communist rebels may target the organization's members for assassination.

"It is with a deep sense of regret that I announce the suspension of one of Peace Corps' oldest and most successful programs," Corps Director Paul Coverdell said in a statement.

"A recent concern that Peace Corps volunteers may be among those targeted by the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines has led to this decision," said Coverdell.

The Communist New People's Army rebels, fighting a 21-year-old insurgency, have killed 10 Americans since 1987 and have vowed to step up their attacks on U.S. targets as part of their campaign to force the removal of American military bases from the Philippines.

The 261 volunteers in the Philippines will begin leaving Manila after a special send-off by President Corazon Aquino today, Coverall said.

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