BUTUAN CITY -- A soldier of the 23rd Infantry Battalion was injured in a clash with members of the New People’s Army (NPA) Monday morning, October 23, in one of the far-flung villages here as the military and police intensify operations against communist rebels following an NPA raid last Saturday, October 21.

An Army official said the clash happened around 7:20 a.m., Monday, October 23, in Sitio Malanay, Barangay Nongnong.

Captain Regie Go, civil military operations officer of the 402nd Brigade based in Barangay Bancasi, Butuan City, said the wounded soldier was part of a scout platoon of the 23rd Infantry Battalion who were pursuing a group of rebels responsible for burning six heavy construction equipment worth P 9 million in a nearby quarry site Saturday dawn.

“A 10-minute gun battle ensued between our soldiers against around 30 NPA’s under the Guerilla Front 4A of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee. We believe that this group is headed by a certain Bong,” Go said.

The injured soldier was identified as Jesrell Amarelle who was wounded on his right ankle.

Go said some of the rebels may have been wounded as soldiers on the ground reported seeing blood stains along the rebels’ escape route.

Police Chief Inspector Renel Serrano, officer-in-charge of the public information office of Police Regional Office (PRO)-Caraga, stated that police personnel are also taking part in the pursuit operation.

“While the soldiers are conducting their operation along the forest mountainous terrain in the area, our personnel under the Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB) are conducting a parallel police operation on the adjacent part of the vicinity. We have intensified our operation after the NPA raid,” said Serrano.

Serrano revealed the incident that happened on Saturday that led to the intensification of police and military operation in the hinterland area of the city.

“On October 21, 2017, Saturday at about 4:00 dawn, around 30 members of the NPA rebels torched four back-hoes, a pay loader and a dump truck at a quarry site in Purok 7, barangay Bonbon, Butuan City. Initial assessment conducted by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) suggested that the total value of the heavy equipment’s burned is around 9 million pesos. The quarry permit is registered to lawyer Gil M. Cembrabo and operated by Ali Bani Martinez,” said Serrano.

Martinez pointed out on an interview that they did not received any form of communication foe monetary extortion from any group or person from a certain affiliation before the incident took place contrary to the early reports that circulated that the NPA demanded revolutionary tax prior to the burning of the assorted equipment.

The NPA has yet to issue a statement regarding the incident.