5 soldiers killed in clash with NPA in Negros

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BACOLOD CITY—Five Army soldiers were killed and two others wounded in an encounter with New People’s Army rebels on Saturday in a mountain village outside Sipalay City, 178 kilometers south of this city.

The soldiers, belonging to the 47th Infantry Batallion, were pursuing rebels who burned down the bunkhouse of Philex Mining Corp. in Sitio Umas on Friday night. They were about 1. 5 km away from the bunkhouse about 7 a.m. when some 30 rebels fired on them at the adjacent Sitio Magalaw-alaw.

Colonel Rey Bañares, 303rd Infantry Brigade deputy commander, confirmed that five of the soldiers were killed but declined to identify them as their families had yet to be notified.

However, Senior Superintendent Ricardo dela Paz, acting Negros Occidental provincial director, later identified the fatalities as Cpl. Aljun Francisco, Pfc. Charlie Magne Jomento, Pfc. Jan Granzo, Pvt. Ramer Aguilario and Pvt. Benjie Tolog and the wounded as Cpl. Jovimar Lateza and Pfc. Romel Agustino.

Bañares said the two wounded soldiers were in stable condition.

Dela Paz said the rebels also took four M16, one M14 and one K3 rifles from the soldiers.

According to an initial field report, the soldiers were pursuing rebels who burned down the bunkhouse and generator set of Philex Mining Corp. on Friday night in Sitio Umas.

Senior Superintendent Ricardo de la Paz, acting Negros Occidental police director, said about 30 rebels barged into the Philex Mining compound and ordered the occupants of the bunkhouse to leave before setting it on fire.

This was the second attack by the NPA on Pilex Mining in two years.

In 2011, rebels also raided the Philex Mining Co. compound in Barangay Nabulao, Sipalay City, burned two vehicles and a bunkhouse, and divested security guards of their firearms, military records showed.

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