CAMP OLIVAS - Three alleged members of Rebolusyonaryong Hukbo ng Bayan (RHB) were killed on Friday after brief clash with government troops in Barangay Sta. Cruz here.

Pampanga Police Provincial Director Petronio Retirado said combined elements of the provincial police and 703rd Brigade of the Philippine Army encountered an estimate of 12 heavily armed suspected rebels at Purok 3, Barangay Sta. Cruz, Mexico town at about 4:30 a.m.

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Retirado said after the clash three unidentified rebels were killed.

The armed group was reportedly under the command of "Ka Lara" of Area Party (APC), which operates at "Timog Silangan Pampanga", according to Retirado.

Lieutenant Colonel Rogelio Mesias, spokesman of the Army's 7th Infantry Division, said troops from the 703rd Brigade were deployed at Sta. Cruz village following information of rebel presence in the area.

He said the troops, backed by police elements, caught up with the rebels belonging to Marxist Leninist Proletariat Party (MLPP)-RHB. The MLPP-RHB broke out from the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) in the early 90s.

"This is a planned operation. We had sightings of the rebels, prompting us to launch the operations in coordination with the PNP (Philippine National Police). Their presence was reported by the civilians," said Mesias.

The remaining rebels escaped on board an Isuzu Fuego (WHK-951) towards direction of Arayat town.

Recovered from the scene were two M-16 rifles with M203, one .45 caliber pistol, four bullets for M203, bandoleers, subversive documents and personal belongings.

Retirado said there was no reported casualty on the government side.

As of Friday afternoon, government troops are still scouring the area and launched a hot pursuit operation against the fleeing rebels.

Recently, Pampanga police arrested three alleged members of Partisan Armed Group (PAG) during a raid in Arayat and Sta. Ana towns.

Arrested were Mervin Magat, 35, a resident of Purok 1, Barangay San Nicolas, Arayat town; Joe Macato, 23 and Markgel Magat, 17; both residents of Barangay San Isidro, Sta Ana, all in Pampanga.

The younger Magat was turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development while the two suspects were detained at the Provincial Police Office.

Seized from their possessions were one M16 rifle; a .45 caliber pistol; one automatic carbine; a ranger compact cal. 45 pistol; one 12 gauge shotgun; a hand grenade; and assorted bullets. (Ric Sapnu/Sunnex)