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Pipe bomb fragments found at ambush site

/ 09:09 PM June 30, 2013

CHIEF Supt. Benjamin Magalong, Cordillera police director, pins a Purple Heart medal to PO1 Jasmin Apple Salve, one of two women hurt in the NPA ambush of policemen in Mt. Province on Friday, for injuries incurred in the line of duty. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CORDILLERA POLICE OFFICE

BAGUIO CITY—Communist rebels who attacked nearly a hundred policemen in Tadian, Mt. Province, on Friday morning had precise information about the lawmen’s itinerary for the day. They also had time to cook a meal at the ambush point 50 meters above a road while they awaited the policemen.

These pieces of information came from Superintendent Dave Limmong, Cordillera police spokesperson, who also said that investigators had recovered fragments of what appeared to be a pipe bomb from the ambush site in Tadian, aside from the abandoned food and cooking implements.

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Limmong said the recovered fragments showed that the rebels first set off an explosive before they fired at the policemen, who were out on their routine morning jog.

He said the suspected bomb fragments, including emulite, a chemical solution used for explosives, and detonation cords, were recovered from a clearing in Sitio Kabunagan, Barangay (village) Poblacion in Tadian, along with shell casings from bullets fired from automatic rifles.

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The New People’s Army’s (NPA) Leonardo Pacsi command, which is stationed in Mt. Province, admitted to mounting the attack, in a statement sent to the Inquirer.

Magno Udyaw, Leonardo Pacsi command spokesperson, said the NPA had targeted the policemen, part of the Philippine National Police’s Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB), because they were “composed of one of the numerous batches of the RPSB, who had been trained in counterinsurgency and urban warfare tactics since last year.”

Killed in the attack was PO1 Denver Balabag. The nine wounded included two women officers, PO1 Jasmin Apple Salve and PO1 Junette Ngalawen. Limmong said 70 of the almost 100 training officers were women.

A joint police and military task force has been going after the attackers, Limmong said.

Udyaw insisted the policemen were armed, citing 14 rifles, which the rebels took from the site.

Limmong said some of the policemen carried weapons to allow them to get accustomed to their weapon’s weight as they jogged through rough terrain. But the guns had no bullets in their chambers nor bullet magazines, he said.

In a telephone interview from Mt. Province, Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong, Cordillera police director, said the rebels no longer discriminated between armed and unarmed combatants.

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“During tactical operations, even if we know we are fighting the NPA rebels, if they are unarmed, we don’t shoot,” he said, adding that was the PNP’s protocol.

Udyaw said they attacked on behalf of the Tadian folk who, he added, had been fearful about weapons training taking place in their area. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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