GOVERNMENT forces have reported the recovery of high-powered firearms, bullets and explosives following an encounter with communist rebels in the outskirts of Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte, on Monday, August 28.
The Army's 29th Infantry Battalion (29IB) reported seizing four AK47, one M16, and M4 rifle after engaging some 20 members of the New People's Army (NPA) Guerilla Front 16.
Also recovered were landmines, hand held radios, subversive documents, medical supplies and food stuffs left by the Maoist guerrillas at the NPA camp where the 30-minute clash erupted.
Captain Joe Patrick Martinez, spokesperson of the 4th Infantry Division (4ID), said there are unconfirmed reports that an NPA member was killed and another wounded during the encounter.
"We can't confirm it kasi ito lang yung sinabi ng populace sa area. Kaya we have the responsibility to get the body para mabigyan ng maayos na libing," Martinez said.
No one was hurt on the government side.
Martinez said they found list of supposed members of the NPA and unearthed the planned tactical offensives of the rebels from the documents they recovered.
"Yung area ay isa sa matagal na binabalik-balikan ng kampo ng mga NPA. Doon sa nakuhang mga documents nakita doon kung sino yung mga kukunan nila ng pera, tactical offensives nila at mga panglang ng mga NPA," Martinez said.
Martinez said the NPA sightings in the area were tipped by a resident, prompting Colonel Franco Nemesio Gacal, 402nd Infantry Brigade Commander, to direct the 29IB troops to track and pursue the NPAs.
Newly installed 4ID commander Major General Ronald Villanueva lauded the troops and exhorted the brigade to continue pursuing the rebel group.
"I congratulate the troops for successfully addressing this armed group that is terrorizing the people in that peaceful community. The villagers are already fed up with the deceptions and terrorist activities of this group. There will be no let up on our operation," Villanueva said.
Martinez said the communist rebels have harassed and caused force evacuation among villagers in the adjacent barangay early this year.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 30, 2017.