5 killed, 9 hurt in Davao Oriental attack

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Five people were killed while nine others were wounded in an attack staged by communist rebels in the province of Davao Oriental, a military official said Tuesday.

Captain Emmanuel Garcia, public affairs officer of the Army's 10th Infantry Division, said the attack took place around noon Monday in the village of Maputi, Banay-Banay town in Davao Oriental.

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Three of the slain persons were identified as Private First Class Joselito Gomez of Claveria and Private First Class Elmer Raro of Manga, both of Misamis Oriental, as well as Private First Class Rolen Roy dela Cruz of M'lang, North Cotabato.

The other two fatalities were identified as members of the New People's Army (NPA) who were killed in a firefight that ensued as the troops managed to fight back. Four rebels were also wounded in the firefight.

The other five wounded were soldiers, said Garcia. The victims are now recuperating at a local hospital.

He said the soldiers were providing security to the implementation of an infrastructure project in Maputi, Banay-Banay town when the communist rebels arrived.

The project is part of Mati-Tagum national road project funded by the government.

Garcia said the communist rebels commandeered two trucks in doing the broad daylight attack.

One of the driver of the trucks told authorities that he saw two NPA rebels lying dead in his truck while four others were wounded. The driver, whose identity was withheld, is now in the custody of the police.

Garcia said the attackers belong to Front 18 Operations Command of the NPA's 3rd Pulangi Bagani Company.

"Their increased level of attacks not only to soldiers but against non-combatants is a ploy to force helpless people to bow down to their oppressive anti-people and anti-development policy particularly in the countryside, which reveals that they are not fighting for any ideology at all," Garcia said.

He described the incident as "an attack against progress and development, and an attack against our people."

"But despite the loss of valuable lives of these soldiers, our troops were able to protect the ongoing construction for the benefit of our people," he added.

The NPA, meanwhile, admitted to have staged the attack Monday.

In a statement signed by Ka Simon Santiago, political director of the NPA in Southern Mindanao, the communist rebels claimed to have seized several high powered, including two mini sub-machine gun, two M203 grenade launcher, three M14 rifles, three Garand rifles and one M16 rifle.

Santiago said one of their comrades was killed in the hour-long firefight.

Garcia said the motive of the attack is the continuous refusal of Maverick Construction Company, contractor of the road project, from paying protection money being demanded by the communist rebels.

The NPA reportedly demanded extortion money from the construction firm a month ago, but the management of Maverick refused to give in to the rebel group's demand and instead asked the Philippine Army to provide security details on its project.

Few weeks ago, the rebels also attempted to burn down construction equipment in the area but failed.

"The attack shows that the NPA don't want progress to creep in and they have degenerated into an extortion gang. The spate of violent attacks of the NPA was brought about by their strategic defeat in the political arena," Garcia said.

Last year, the rebels also attacked a convoy of soldiers near the village of Maputi, as well as the municipal police station of Banay-Banay town in separate occasions.

In Sulu province, three people were also killed while three others were wounded when the suspect identified as Jolaiban Suheri attacked the victims with an M-203 grenade launcher Tuesday.

The incident took place early Tuesday in Talipao town.

The fatalities were identified as Salim Ladjabasal and his two sons, Al Anser and Ken.

The Talipao police have launched a manhunt to arrest the suspect who is still at large. Family feud is said to be the motive behind the attack. (Bong Garcia/With Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)

5 killed 9 hurt davao oriental attack

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