Violence grips Abra anew as cops clash with armed men

Violence grips Abra anew as cops clash with armed men

/ 04:35 AM October 10, 2023

BAGUIO CITY—A member of an armed group in Bucay town, Abra province, was wounded after engaging local policemen in a gunfight shortly after midnight on Monday, authorities said.

A report from the Abra police provincial office said personnel of the Bucay Municipal Police Station and the 2nd Police Mobile Force Company were on mobile patrol when they chanced upon five armed men at Sitio Nagsangalan in Barangay Layugan at 12:35 a.m.

A gun battle ensued that wounded Romnick Balmaceda, a member of the unnamed armed group and a resident of Barangay Calumbaya in Dolores town, also in Abra, the police said.


Balmaceda was taken to a nearby clinic while his companions managed to escape toward a forest.


No one among the policemen suffered injuries, investigators said.

Recovered from the site were two loaded M16 rifles, six rifle magazines with ammunition, 120 pieces of live bullets and 37 spent cartridges.

READ: In Abra, cops keep tight watch on motorcycle riders after lawyer’s slay

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Private army?

Personnel of the nearby Manabo police station and the Police Regional Mobile Force Battalion responded and began the clearing and pursuit operations.

Inquirer sources said it was likely that the armed men belonged to a local private army but this has yet to be confirmed by investigators.

The armed encounter took place about three weeks before the Oct. 30 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

It was the latest in a string of violence that gripped Abra in less than a month, including the daytime killing of Abra lawyer Maria Saniata Liwliwa Gonzales Alzate.


The lawyer was shot by two assailants on a motorcycle in front of her house in the capital town of Bangued on Sept. 14. The case remained unsolved.

Although the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the Cordillera region said the attack on Alzate was not poll-related, Bangued was listed among highland communities with previous “election-related incidences.”

In a previous interview, Comelec Cordillera Regional Director Julius Torres said Bangued was categorized as a “yellow” zone owing to the poll-related tension in the town.

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Torres said Bangued, particularly the villages of Bangbangar, Sinapangan, Patucannay and Angad, would require additional police security during the election period.

TAGS: Abra clash

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