MANILA, Philippines— The number of fatalities in the ambush of the Philippine National Police’s elite unit in Cagayan has risen to eight.
The ambush staged by the New People’s Army rebels at 8:30 a.m. in Allacapan town left seven officers of the Special Action Force dead on the spot and the eighth commando member died later in hospital, police said.
Killed on the spot were Police Officer 3 Vladimir Tabarejo, PO2 Elmark Rodney Pinated, PO2 Dexter Cubilla, PO1 Erick Brioso, PO2 Angelbert Mateo, PO1 Jerome Sanchez, PO2 Jonnel Bowat.
Another officer, PO2 Ronald Castulo, was declared dead on arrival at the hospital.
Seven others were wounded and were taken to the Balesteros District Hospital, Orlanes said. They were identified as follows:
PO2 Ronald Gomez, PO1 Ephraim Dolete, PO2 Geopano Adangui, PO1 Ryan Asunio, PO2 Ricky Monay Agana, PO2 Jeofrey Liagao Amiligan Liaga, and PO2 Jeofrey Elasco.
The ambush was the latest in a series of attacks by the rebels this year that have left dozens of people dead.
Inspector Cesar Orlanes, Cagayan police spokesman, said the officers were on their way to a medical exam in Allacapan, about 400 kilometers north of Manila, when a landmine exploded under their vehicle, followed by firing from the guerrillas.
He said the suspects were a group of about 30 men.
PNP spokesman, Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo, said that after the landmine exploded, “they were shot by armed men” who were positioned on an elevated area.
Police were checking reports that the group belongs to the Danilo Ben Command.
taken by the armed group.
The firearms of the slain policemen were taken by the group.
“Handa naman yung grupo at naka laban din. Naunahan lang talaga (The officers were prepared and were able to fight back but they were outgunned),” he said.
Authorities have launched hot pursuit operations for the possible arrest of the perpetrators, Cerbo said.
“With what happened in Cagayan, there’s an order now for all units to maintain a very high standard of alertness and operational readiness,” Cerbo said, adding that units should also review its corresponding defense plans.
The NPA has been waging a 44-year-old Maoist armed campaign that has claimed at least 30,000 lives, according to a government estimate.
The government said in April peace talks with the communists had collapsed and a target of ending the insurgency by 2016 was impossible to achieve.
The NPA, which is believed to have about 4,000 fighters, has conducted a series of high-profile attacks this year.
The deadliest occurred in January, when nine police and security forces were killed in another ambush. Last month rebels also killed two aides of a town mayor who is a member of President Benigno Aquino III’s Liberal Party. With a report from Agence France Presse