2 soldiers on way to disaster response ops slain in ambush
GAMU, ISABELA—Two Army soldiers were killed while another was wounded after they were ambushed on Thursday by suspected communist rebels while on their way to Baay-Licuan, Abra, to help in the government’s relief operations for victims of the magnitude 6.4 earthquake that hit northern Luzon on Tuesday.
The soldiers, including one reported missing, belonged to the 24th Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Army’s 5th Infantry Division (ID) and were tapped for disaster response in Abra, the epicenter of the earthquake, said Capt. Rigor Pamittan, spokesperson for the 5th ID.
Pamittan, in a text message, declined to identify the soldiers as their families had yet to be notified by Army officials on Thursday.
He said the soldiers were attacked by an undetermined number of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels at Barangay Gacab in Malibcong town, some 26 kilometers from Baay-Licuan where they were supposed to augment troops involved in disaster response and relief operations.
Pamittan said the wounded soldier was already recuperating at an undisclosed hospital while the bodies of the slain soldiers were still being recovered on Thursday afternoon. No report about the missing soldier was immediately available.
Lt. Col. Ricardo Garcia III, 24th IB commander, denounced the attack, describing it as an “atrocious act.”
“We condemn in the strongest terms possible the barbaric act of the [NPA]. We assure our people, particularly the families of our soldiers, that we will pursue the perpetrators and bring them to justice,” Garcia said in a statement.
In a separate statement, Brig. Gen. Audrey Pasia, 5th ID commander, said the sacrifice of the slain soldiers would “not be in vain,” as he called them “heroes.”
“This gruesome ambush against our soldiers in disaster response mode is another proof of their (NPA rebels) cruelty and inhumanity to our countrymen,” he said.
Pasia added: “We offer our condolences to the bereaved families of our troops … [and] assure our people in Abra and other areas affected by the earthquake that the disaster response operations of your soldiers will continue despite the dastardly act of the [communist rebels].”
—VILLAMOR VISAYA JR.
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