2 soldiers killed, 6 hurt in clash with rebels

TWO soldiers were killed while six others were wounded in an encounter with the members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Barangay Gupitan in Kapalong town in Davao del Norte on Tuesday, July 29, the military said.

The two fatalities were identified as Private First Class (Pfc.) Elvero I. Batacandolo Jr. and Pfc. Fernando L. Mendoza Jr. while the six wounded were Pfc. Genesis R. Celestial, Pfc. Ronnel D. Merisco, Pfc. Orlan V. Parac, Pfc. Travinio A. Dennis, Private Alfon A. Rocaberte Jr. and a certain Caa Bunsot.

Army's 10th Infantry Division spokesperson Captain Ernest Carolina, in a phone interview yesterday, said the sporadic fighting continued even as the government troops pursued the NPA rebels past 7:30 a.m. in Gupitan.

Carolina said troops of the peace and development team belonging to the Army's 60th Infantry Battalion were conducting security patrol operation at Sitio (Sub-village) Kapatagan in Gupitanat 7 a.m. when they encountered around 50 rebels.

He added the casualties were a result of the improvised explosive device (IED) planted by the rebels belonging to the Guerilla Front 34, Southern Mindanao-regional Command (SMRC) of the NPA. The clash lasted for about 40 minutes.

"I would just like to clarify na wala pong missing in action (referring to earlier reports of three soldiers missing). Bale nagkahiwahiwalay kasi ang tropa during the encounter, dun na sila nagkita pagkatapos na talagang encounter,” Carolina said.

Carolina said the wounded soldiers were brought to Camp Panacan Hospital in Davao City while the two others were brought to a funeral parlor. He also said there were no reports of casualties on the GF 34 rebels’ side.

Meanwhile, four suspected members of the NPA burned a sprayer truck owned by the Sumitomo Fruits (Sumifru) in Lower Siocon Village in Compostela town in Compostela Valley around 5:30 a.m. yesterday, Compostela Valley Provincial Police Office (CVPPO) director Senior Supt Abraham Rojas, said.

Rojas said based on the initial investigation of the Compostela Municipal Police Station, four armed men on board a motorcycle torched the truck at Purok 3 in Lower Siocon Village. Those armed men identified themselves as members of the NPA.

The Compostela police are already conducting their investigation on the matter while the troops of the 60th Infantry Battalion have already launched a pursuit operation against the rebels who attacked their peace and development team.

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