ZAMBOANGA CITY (Updated) -- Two soldiers and two communist rebels were killed while 15 others were wounded in a roadside bombing followed by a firefight in Davao City, the military reported Friday.

Major Ezra Balagtey, Eastern Mindanao Command information officer, said the roadside bombing took place around 4 p.m. Thursday, February 16, in the boundaries of Lacson and Lamanan villages in Calinan District, Davao City.

He said the troops from the Army's 3rd Infantry Battalion were on a convoy when the rebels detonated a roadside bomb, killing two soldiers and injuring several others.

The troops were going after a group of New People's Army (NPA) rebels who were behind the burning of a pineapple harvester owned by Del Monte Corporation in Barangay Tawantawan, Calinan District in Davao when the incident happened.

Balagtey said the burning of Del Monte's equipment occurred around noontime Thursday, February 16.

He said the slain soldiers are both enlisted personnel, while the wounded are composed of 14 enlisted men and an officer with a rank of second lieutenant. He declined to name the slain soldiers, pending the notification of their families.

A firefight ensued after the roadside bombing and it resulted in the killing of two rebels.

The troops recovered from the clash site two firearms, two improvised bombs, and bomb-making paraphernalia abandoned by the rebels as they fled to different directions.

Balagtey said pursuit operations are underway against the remnants of the NPA band that figured in the clash.

Around 5 a.m. Thursday, NPA rebels also attacked an Army detachment in Sitio Binaton, Barangay Malabog in Paquibato District, Davao City.

Balagtey said subsequent firefight led to the killing of one of the rebels.

Brigadier General Gilbert Gapay, commander of the Joint Task Force Haribon, grieved the death of the two soldiers.

"(W)e salute them for their display of the finest tradition of soldiery. We see to it that their death will not be in vain. This will further motivate us to work for peace in this part of the country," said Gapay.

He said soldiers have been tasked to clear improvised bombs that may have been laid by the rebels in the city.

"Since last night, we are on clearing operations to clear the areas of other possible IEDs that might endanger the people and community therein and other possible NPA casualty left," Gapay said.

"Likewise pursuit operations against these armed lawless group are being undertaken and we will continue to run after them to protect our communities, will not allow them to further carry out their terroristic act," he added. (Bong Garcia/VR/SunStar Philippines)


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