A GOVERNMENT soldier was killed while two others were injured after a clash with communist New People's Army (NPA) rebels in Davao del Sur on Friday, the military said Saturday.

Captain Alberto Caber, public affairs officer of the military's Eastern Mindanao Command, said about four rebels were injured in the fighting based on information gathered from residents.

Caber said troops from the Army's 39th Infantry Battalion were earlier sent to Sitio Tibaol in Barangay Sinoron in Sta Cruz town following reports of rebel presence.

Around 12:10 p.m. Friday, Caber said the patrolling soldiers were fired upon by the rebels, ensuing a firefight, said Caber. The clash ended upon withdrawal by the undetermined number rebels.

The troops recovered at the scene an M16 rifle, two rifle grenades, three improvised explosive devices, ammunition, assorted medicines, a radio, rebel documents and backpacks.

"Residents in the area reported that there are more or less four NPA bandits who were wounded and carried by their companions during their escape," said Caber.

Caber said pursuit operations are ongoing against the fleeing rebels.

Eastmincom chief Lieutenant General Aurelio Baladad encouraged the wounded NPA members to come out so they can be given medical treatment.

"We are all awaiting for your return to the folds of the law. We will facilitate your safe return to your respective families and become productive citizens in your respective communities," Baladad said. (VR/Sunnex)