A LEADER of the New People’s Army (NPA) was killed while a child was rescued as skirmishes between government troops and NPA rebels ensued in the northeastern Mindanao, the military said Wednesday, April 22.
Lieutenant Colonel Ezra Balagtey, Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) information officer, said Kevin Caballero alias Ka Banjo, an NPA leader was killed in a firefight around 11:40 a.m. Monday in Bangayan village, Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte.
Balagtey said the firefight ensued while the troops of the Army’s 29th Infantry Battalion launched a pursuit operation against the NPA rebels in Bangayan, Kitcharao town.
He said Caballero is the vice commander of the NPA group in Bangayan, Kitcharao. Recovered from him was an M4 rifle with an attached M-203 grenade launcher, subversive documents, and one improvised explosive device (IED) switch kit.
The pursuit came after the troops of the 29th Infantry Battalion clashed against at least 20 NPA rebels around 5:30 a.m. Monday in Bangayan, Kitcharao, which resulted in the discovery of an NPA hideout, capture of three suspected NPA members, and the rescue of a nine-year-old boy, he added.
Balagtey said another 15-minute skirmish against the NPA rebels followed around 3:00 p.m., also Monday, as the troops conducted a clearing operation, which led to the recovery of an AK47 rifle.
The information officer said Caballero was identified by a former NPA rebel during a public identification before turning over its cadaver and the three captured NPA members to the municipal government of Kitcharao and the police for proper disposition.
He added that the rescued minor was turned over to the Municipal Social Welfare and Development of Kitcharao in compliance with the provision of the Republic Act 11188 otherwise known as “Special Protection of Children Situation in Armed Conflict.”
Meanwhile, Balagtey said the troops of the Army’s 30th Infantry Battalion have recovered several personal belongings, IED and bomb-making components, subversive documents, and others when they clashed against NPA rebels around 2:35 p.m. Sunday at Sitio Katikuyan in the village of Camam-onan, Gigaguit, Surigao del Norte.
Balagtey said the clash ensued when the troops chanced upon the NPA rebels while on security operations in Sitio Katikuyan, Camam-onan.
He said the intensified conduct of security operations in Eastern Mindanao was brought about by the task of the military to secure the different socio-economic programs being implemented by the government in its fight against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) and mitigate its social and economic impact. (SunStar Zamboanga)