THE number of people killed by the rebel group, New People's Army (NPA) in Southern Mindanao has increased from 79 to 83 for the year 2009.

Earlier statement made by the Philippine Army claimed that the NPA has killed 79 people from January 3, 2009 up to December 17, 2009. Latest statement by the military however showed that four more incidents in the past week have increased the total to 84.

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The military said that several killings were recorded from December 21 to 28, which add Teofilo Bugcal Lerita of Sitio Crossing, Barangay Malabog in Paquibato District, Davao City who was shot to death on December 21 by NPA rebels posing as soldiers, wearing military uniforms with Task Force Davao patches.

Another fatality, Cipriano Albores, was shot to death by rebels at his residence in Sitio Tungan, Barangay Kinangan in Malita, Davao del Sur on December 28.

Two more victims were included in the military record as investigations developed linking NPA rebels in the killings. The list show Jaime Villafani, a militiaman of Purok 6, Barangay Mangayon in Compostela, Compostela Valley who was shot to death by motorcycle riding gunmen on December 5.

Benafloro Peladas, a village official, was also gunned down by men of Leoncio Pitao alias Kumander Parago in Sitio Kibaton, Dominga in Calinan District this city on December 8.

Several other killings in 2009 and in the past are now being investigated by authorities for possible link to NPA death squads. (BOT)