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Soldiers on alert after Panay attacks

ILOILO CITY—Government troops have been placed on heightened alert following a series of attacks by suspected communist rebels in Capiz and Iloilo provinces.

But the Army’s 301st Infantry Brigade dismissed the offensives in Igbaras and San Joaquin towns in Iloilo and Maayon town in Capiz as “isolated and just a show of force.”

“[The attacks] are part of their efforts to prove that they are still here,” Col. Eric Uchida, commander of the Army’s 301st Infantry Brigade, which covers internal security operations on Panay Island, told the Inquirer.

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Six soldiers, a policeman and a civilian were wounded in the three attacks staged separately in the two towns. Millions of pesos worth of heavy equipment and military vehicles were destroyed or damaged.

Armed men believed to be New People’s Army (NPA) rebels exploded an improvised bomb while a Toyota Hi-Lux police patrol vehicle was passing by in Barangay Tuburan in Maayon about 3:45 p.m. on Sunday, according to the Capiz provincial police.

They fired at the two policemen onboard, identified as PO1 Rene Villa and PO1 Manuel Cobrador of the Provincial Public Safety Company. The lawmen managed to get off the vehicle and fire back, but Villa was hit by glass fragments in the right eye, according to the police report.

At 8 p.m. on the same day, about 20 suspected rebels burned two military trucks and several pieces of heavy equipment used in the construction of a mini hydropower plant project in Barangays Passi and Igcabugao in Igbaras.

The equipment, owned by a private firm, Century Peak, included seven dump trucks and three backhoes.

The attackers tied up the security guards at the site and took away their service firearms—a shotgun and a .38 cal. revolver.

In a statement, Uchida condemned the burning of heavy equipment as an “atrocity” and part of the rebels’ “extortion campaign.”

About 3:50 a.m. on Monday, armed men detonated an improvised land mine along the national highway in San Joaquin as two trucks, carrying soldiers of the Army’s 82nd Infantry Battalion, passed by on their way to Antique province.

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The soldiers managed to disembark from the trucks and fire back.

Six soldiers suffered minor shrapnel wounds. They were identified as Sgt. Jose Duello, Cpl. Christopher Mondaya, and Privates First Class Rex Sencil, Danton Lim, Joemar Cardona and Jesrey Arca.

A civilian, identified as Bryan Servano, was also hurt.

The casualties were brought to Pedro Trono Memorial District Hospital in Guimbal town in Iloilo.

Uchida dismissed the attacks as related to the arrest of Maria Concepcion Araneta-Bocala, alleged head of the Panay regional committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines, by police and military intelligence agents in a raid on a rented house in Iloilo on Aug. 1.

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TAGS: Attacks, Capiz, communist, Iloilo, Panay, province, provincial, Rebel, Regions, Soldier
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