SUSPECTED New People's Army (NPA) rebels allegedly used residents as shields to escape in a fight against government troops, the military said.
Colonel Maurito Licudine, 402nd Infantry Brigade commander, said NPA rebels belonging to Guerilla Front 4A-North Central Mindanao Regional Committee allegedly held and threatened civilians of Barangay Lower Olave, Buenavista town, Agusan del Norte to keep them silent.
The military said some children were traumatized because of the incident on March 9.
Licudine said exposing the civilians to danger is a violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
"But we appreciate the still overwhelming support of the people in tipping-off the presence of these CNTs. This is a clear indication that the people are already fed-up of the CNTs’ (Communist NPA terrorists) decades long of banditry and extortion," Licudine said.
"It is not too late. I urge the NPAs to lay down their arms and return back to the folds of the law to avoid suffering the same fate. There is still hope to start a new life together with their families. The NPAs can avail the government’s Enhanced- Comprehensive Local Integration Program," he added.
After the brief encounter, troops recovered anti-personnel mine, firearms, and several subversive documents of the NPA.
Two M1 carbine (defaced serial numbers), one calibre .22 rifle, one air gun, one anti-personnel mine, one C-4 explosive, 25 meters firing wire, one blasting cap, three cartridges 40mm HE, one hand grenade, two binoculars, one monocular, one pistol holster, five cellular phones, assorted belongings, assorted medicines, and backpacks were among those found.