Group hits Army’s ‘indiscriminate’ firing, bombing in Aurora

Group hits Army’s ‘indiscriminate’ firing, bombing in Aurora; AFP denies claims

MABALACAT CITY—Human rights group Karapatan-Central Luzon has denounced what it called “indiscriminate firing and bombing operations” by the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Aurora province on Tuesday night.

In a statement on Wednesday, Karapatan said two Army helicopters “bombed” the villages of Diamanen, Toytoyan, Puangi, Dimabuno, Salay and Sapang Kawayan in Dipaculao town around 6 p.m.

The group said the military helicopters then proceeded to Maria Aurora town and dropped bombs in the villages of Bannawag, Bayanihan and Cadayacan, which fell on farmlands. According to Karapatan, the explosions were “very loud and [had] scared civilians” in the area.


But Army Maj. Jimson Masangkay, public affairs office head of the Philippine Army’s 7th Infantry Division, has denied Karapatan’s claims.


In a telephone interview on Thursday, Masangkay said there was no indiscriminate firing and that no bombs were dropped in the two towns.


He said the Philippine Air Force’s helicopters used only their standard .50-caliber machine guns and rifle grenades while pursuing members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Masangkay said the operation was focused on the known location of the communist rebels in areas where villagers had already evacuated to safer areas.“As to the loud sound of the 20-millimeter explosives, of course, they could be heard, as the operation was conducted at night when the surrounding area was silent,” he said.

Masangkay maintained that no civilians were hurt during the government forces’ clashes with NPA rebels in Dipaculao’s Toytoyan and Salay villages on Monday and Tuesday and during the succeeding pursuit.

No houses were damaged or destroyed during the operations, he added.

“But if ever a house or houses got damaged, the AFP and the local governments of Aurora are willing to help rebuild or repair them. But we have not received any reports about damaged houses,” he said.



Karapatan said 158 families, or 500 people, were evacuated to the Dipaculao Sports Center; 50 families (210 people) were staying at the Ipil Sports Complex; and 67 families (267 individuals) were taken to Lipit evacuation center, all in Dipaculao.

However, data from the provincial government showed that 381 families (1,550 people) were staying in the three evacuation centers in Dipaculao.

The Maria Aurora municipal council urged the residents of the villages of Bannawag, Kadayakan, Bayanihan, Diaat and Bazal, which are near the clash sites, to stay in their homes.

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Local police and the provincial government of Aurora have been urging the public not to believe what they described as “fake news” spreading on social media, including false information about supposed lockdowns and deaths of civilians, as well as the destruction of homes and vehicles resulting from clashes between soldiers and NPA rebels.

TAGS: Army, Aurora

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