Foreign observers’ convoy ambushed in Bukidnon; 7 soldiers wounded
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Seven soldiers were wounded while three communist rebels were believed to have been injured following an encounter with the New People’s Army (NPA) fighters in Bukidnon Thursday morning, the military said in a report.
The report said the NPA rebels detonated an anti-personnel mine on a convoy of vehicles of foreign nationals, local volunteers, and Army troopers in Sitio Nasandigan, Barangay Kalabugao, Impasug-ong, Bukidnon.
The foreigners are from Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia, and Malaysia. They are in the country to observe the activity of a group of local indigenous people (IP) called the Higaonon Amamag Malandang Olandok Gagaw (Hamog), a non-government organization which promote cultural preservation in the area, the report said.
Hamog sought the assistance of Impasug-ong IP municipal representative and the Philippine Army to secure the visiting foreign nationals.
“We thought a tire exploded, then we heard a burst of fire. Somebody shouted ‘duck!’ We were afraid (but) we are very thankful to Filipino soldiers for providing us protection,” a foreigner was quoted as saying in the report released by the Army’s 403rd Brigade on Thursday.
The wounded soldiers are now confined at the military hospital in Camp Evangelista, the headquarters of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division based in Cagayan de Oro City, the report added.
Colonel Edgardo De Leon, commander of the Army’s 403rd Brigade, said the soldiers belonging to his brigade also discovered two more anti-personnel mines that did not explode and were left behind by the fleeing rebels following the 5 a.m. attack.
“These mines could have injured the foreign observers,” he said.
He added that the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team of the military and the Scene of the Crime Operatives (Soco) of the police had retrieved the unexploded mines to avoid harming civilians.
“It is obvious that the incident this morning is a direct attack to civilians who are not involved and should be protected from any form of attack,” De Leon said.
He said that after the foreigner observers were safely taken out from the ambush site, they were escorted to the Laguindingan Airport in the town of Laguindingan in Misamis Oriental, which serves both the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, for their flight back to their next destination. (Editor: Eden Estopace)
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