9 troops killed in landmine attacks-A A +A
Monday, October 21, 2013
KIDAPAWAN CITY (Updated) -- Communist rebels attacked government troops twice with roadside bombs and gunfire in the hinterlands of North Cotabato on Monday, killing nine soldiers and militiamen and wounding five others, officials said.
Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) information officer Captain Alberto Caber said the first attack took place around 9:20 a.m. Monday in the boundaries of Caridad and Bituan villages in the town of Tulunan, North Cotabato.
The soldiers were onboard a military truck on their way to deliver cash allowances to the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit personnel at a rural outpost in Tulunan town when they tripped on an improvised explosive device (IED) fashioned out as a landmine.
Caber said the landmine explosion was followed with heavy volley of gunfire unleashed by about 50 New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, resulting in the death of eight troops -- five soldiers and three militiamen. One soldier was injured.
Regional army spokesman Lieutenant Nasrulah Sema said a truckload of soldiers was deployed to hunt down the attackers, but the troops were hit by another landmine around 11 a.m. in Barangay Luna Sur, Makilala town.
"Yung sumunod naman, the troops are conducting hot pursuit operations ng nangyari ulit yung pang-aatake ng mga rebelde," Caber said.
He said the NPA also set off an IED fashioned out as a landmine before firing on the troops in the second attack that killed a soldier and injured four others, including a junior officer.
Caber did not release the names of the slain and wounded soldiers, but said they are from the Army's 38th and 57th Infantry Battalions under the 1002nd Infantry Brigade.
He said pursuit operations have been launched against the NPA rebels believed to be members of the Far-South Mindanao Regional Party Committee, or Fronts 72 and 74 of the NPA.
Troops were hunting the guerrillas, who withdrew toward a wooded area, said Sema.
Lieutenant General Ricardo Rainier Cruz III, Eastmincom commander, ordered his men to continue the pursuit operation against the rebels, and expressed his sympathy to the bereaved families of the soldiers and militiamen.
The military condemned the rebel use of buried explosives, saying they also endanger civilians.
Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala said the communist rebels continue to violate the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) due to their persistent use of unstable IEDs. The CARHRIHL, signed by the Government and National Democratic Front, bans the use of landmines.
Battle setbacks, factionalism and surrenders have reduced the number of armed communist rebels to about 4,000 from a peak of about 25,000 in the mid-1980s, but they remain a major national security threat.
Talks brokered by Norway on ending the 44-year rebellion, one of Asia's longest, collapsed several years ago due to disagreement over a rebel demand for the release of jailed comrades. (Bong Garcia/Ivy C. Tejano of Sun.Star Davao/AP/John Carlo Cahinhinan/Sunnex)
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on October 22, 2013.