TAGUM CITY—Three people, including a 9-year-old boy, were killed in a series of clashes between soldiers and communist rebels in Compostela Valley on Wednesday, according to authorities.
Senior Supt. Camilo Cascolan, Compostela Valley police chief, identified the boy as Roque Antibo.
Lt. Vilma Mojado, information officer of the Army’s 1001st Infantry Brigade, said soldiers from the 71st Infantry Battalion (IB) were on patrol in a remote part of Barangay Anitapan in Mabini town when guerrillas fired at them.
Lt. Col. Jerry Borja, 71st IB commander, said his men were in the area to respond to reports from villagers about the presence of guerrillas.
Cascolan said the boy’s death was being investigated after village officials claimed there was no clash and that soldiers opened fire on a group of civilians, hitting the boy.
A 13-year-old boy was also wounded in the gunfire, said Cascolan, quoting a report from the Mabini police station.
Col. Angelito de Leon, 1001st Infantry Brigade commander, said he had ordered an investigation, too, but insisted that there was a clash and it took place far from civilian communities.
Mojado said two soldiers were killed in separate clashes with guerrillas prior to the clash in Barangay Anitapan.
In Mabini, she said, Scout Rangers and guerrillas clashed when the guerrillas set off a land mine and ambushed government troops on Wednesday.
Several hours after the Mabini clash, Mojado said guerrillas stormed a militia detachment in Monkayo, killing militiaman Romeo Comamao.
The Compostela Valley clashes took place as the military continued its manhunt against New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, who abducted Nabuturan policeman P03 Ruben Nojapa Jr. on March 18. Nojapa was freed on Tuesday, after two weeks in captivity.
The NPA has stepped up attacks in Compostela Valley since the March 30 anniversary of the armed group.