Cops tag NPA in burning of church, houses at Misamis Oriental village
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—A group of armed men that police said were members of New People’s Army (NPA) burned down a church and four houses at a mountain village in Opol town, Misamis Oriental province early on Thursday (May 28).
According to Maj. Evary Bacunawa, Opol municipal police chief, the attack happened in a tribal community at Limonda village past 3 a.m.
Bacunawa said the razed place of worship belonged to an evangelical group, and the houses owned by Edward Villiarias, Ronny Tingkang, Edmar Burlat and Avilino Sambulay.
Citing the account of witnesses, Bacunawa said some 10 heavily armed men set the structures on fire.
Bacunawa added that police concluded that it was the work of NPA because the communist rebel group was the only one in the area that could bring together a group of that size.
Lt. Theofratus Pia, Misamis Oriental provincial police spokesperson, said in a separate interview that no one was harmed during the attack.
“There were no civilian injuries. Aside from the church and houses, a motorcycle was also burned,” Pia added.
He said prior to the attack, rebels clashed with soldiers at the village of Mainit, in Iligan City, which was not far from Limonda.
Pia said the rebels probably retreated to Limonda and burned the structures as a diversionary tactic.
“It’s probable that they staged the burning as a diversion so they won’t be followed by the pursuing government forces,” he added.
Pia said the provincial police had deployed a company from the Provincial Mobile Force to secure the area and conduct pursuit operations with Army soldiers.
Opol Mayor Maximino Seno said as of Thursday afternoon the area had already been secured by government forces.
Edited by TSB
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