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6 NPA rebels killed in attack on Japanese Banana plantation

/ 02:52 PM January 17, 2012

TAGUM CITY, Philippines—Six New People’s Army guerrillas were killed in a battle with Army soldiers and private guards of the banana plantation of the Japanese Sumitomo Fruits Corp. (Sumifru) in Compostela Valley on Monday, police said.

Superintendent Jose Carumba, spokesperson of the Southern Mindanao police, said the rebels arrived at the Sumifru plantation in Barangay Tuburan in Mawab on a mini-truck  around 3 p.m. and immediately fired on an outpost manned by company guards.

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The guards, Carumba said, stood their ground and were later reinforced by soldiers from the Army’s 66th Infantry Battalion.

Carumba said the fire fight lasted for over an hour and that another group of rebels set up roadblocks, jamming the traffic along the Davao-Agusan national highway in Tuburan proper. They also briefly held motorists, he said.

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The rebels eventually fled, leaving behind the bodies of their dead comrades, Carumba said.

He said the authorities  recovered five high-powered firearms, including a 30-caliber machine gun, after the battle.

There were no reports of casualties on the side of the company guards or the soldiers, Carumba said.

Carumba said some residents near the site of the encounter fled their homes for fear of getting caught in the crossfire.

Compostela Valley is host to several large banana companies, including those partly owned by foreigners, such as Stanfilco.

However, only Sumifru frequently comes under NPA attack.

In 2011 alone, at least six NPA attacks on the company’s facilities or equipment in North Cotabato, Compostela Valley and South Cotabato were been reported.

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Lieutenant Colonel Lyndon Paniza, 10th Infantry Division spokesperson, said economic sabotage was the sole intent of the attacks as the company reportedly refused to pay the so-called revolutionary tax to the rebels.

But Jorge Madlos, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front in Mindanao, has repeatedly  denied that money was the reason for NPA attacks on companies such as Sumifru.

“The revolutionary movement shall continue to uphold and to carry our national policy of banning and dismantling large-scale mining, logging and agri-business companies with a track record of violating revolutionary policies,” Madlos said in a statement issued late last year.

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