6 killed, 9 hurt in Army-rebels clash-A A +A
Monday, October 22, 2012
COMPOSTELA VALLEY -- Army troops and communist rebels clashed in separate areas in the country in the latest flare-out of the 43-year insurgency, leaving four soldiers and two rebels dead, officials said Monday.
Nine soldiers, a civilian, and an unspecified number of New People's Army (NPA) rebels were wounded in Sunday's clashes in central Samar province in the Visayas, and in mountainous Compostela Valley province in Mindanao, the military said.
Troops guarding a civic project stumbled on a group of NPA rebels near Gandara town in Samar, touching off a firefight that killed four soldiers and wounded two others.
The NPA rebels withdrew with an unknown number of wounded comrades. Captain Gene Orense said reinforcement troops are hunting down the rebels.
In Compostela Valley, Army troops killed two NPA members when they repulsed an attack by a 60-strong rebel band. The fierce clash wounded seven soldiers and a villager, Army battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Borja said.
The clash happened around 11:45 a.m. Sunday when the rebels attacked the Army's Peace and Development Team that was conducting consultation with residents at the village hall of Calabcab, Maco town. The gunfight lasted for about three hours.
Borja said the troops first ensured the safety of the civilians before they managed to return fire. Seven soldiers were injured.
Wounded were Sergeant Marlon Parong, Corporal Romualdo Tangonan, Privates First Class Erwin Manabat, Rocky Molina, Jaypee Sionillo, Carmelo Cachuela, and Ludivico Elegio Jr.
The wounded civilians were identified as Grace Malisa, 22, and Adela Madanlo, 46.
Borja said the victims are recuperating at Camp Panacan Station Hospital in Davao City.
He said the two slain NPA rebels were only identified as a certain Manny and a certain Max, who were killed in the ensuing firefight when the troops returned fire.
The NPA rebels fled to different directions when they sensed the arrival of reinforcement troops, added Borja.
Recovered by the soldiers at the clash site were five improvised bombs fashioned out as landmines and two high powered firearms -- an M-16 Aramalite rifle and M-14 rifle with ammunition.
Borja said the attack was a deliberate offensive operation of the NPA aimed to harass the residents who have been supporting the Army’s Peace and Development Outreach Program.
"This act of the NPA is clearly out of their frustration to stop the success of Maco in gaining peace and development. They attacked the government forces without considering the presence of civilians that may be caught in crossfire," Borja said.
Major General Ariel Bernardo, commander of the 10th Infantry Division, hailed the bravery of the government troopers.
"I commend the heroism and bravery of these seven soldiers who fought with dedication and willingness to sacrifice their lives in order to keep peace and development in Maco," he said.
The rural-based Marxist rebellion has been one of Asia's longest-running. The Philippine government has separately been dealing with a decades-old Muslim insurrection in the south -- homeland of minority Muslims in the predominantly Roman Catholic country.
While peace talks involving the communist rebels stalled years ago, negotiators of the Philippine government and the largest Muslim rebel group in the south signed a preliminary autonomy deal last week in a major breakthrough after 15 years of talks brokered by Malaysia. (Bong Garcia/AD/AP/Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)