NPA land mines kill 8 troopers
MANILA, Philippines—Five soldiers and three militiamen were killed and five others were wounded in two land mine attacks launched two hours apart by communist insurgents in Tulunan, North Cotabato, Monday morning, military officials said.
Regional Army spokesman Lt. Nasrulah Sema said that around 50 New People’s Army (NPA) rebels detonated a land mine, then opened fire Monday on an Army truck traveling through a mountainous area in Tulunan. The soldiers were on their way to deliver cash allowances to militiamen at a rural outpost.
Four of the soldiers and three militiamen were killed and another soldier was wounded when a firefight erupted between the government troops and the NPAs.
Sema said another truckload of soldiers was deployed to hunt down the attackers, but they were hit by another land mine and came under rebel fire in a second attack that killed a soldier and wounded four others in North Cotabato’s Makilala town.
According to military sources, the first attack against the soldiers from the Army’s 38th Infantry Battalion (IB) took place at the boundary of Caridad and Bituan villages at around 9:20 a.m.
Some two hours later, soldiers from the Army’s 57th IB hit a land mine while on their way to New Caridad, also in Tulunan.
A soldier was killed and four others were wounded.
PO1 Adonis Salvador of the Makilala police said the rebels detonated a land mine while a military truck was passing by, and later fired at the soldiers.
Among the wounded was Capt. Ernesto Aguilar of the 38th IB who was leading an Army convoy heading toward Barangay (village) Bituan.
Lt. Col. Roy Galido, 38th IB chief, said Aguilar was carrying a huge amount of money for the allowances of Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit members when the ambush occurred.
The money was missing and believed to have been taken by the rebels who also carted away three Armalite rifles, according to Lt. Col. Noel de la Cruz, 57th IB spokesman.
“The two incidents were related,” De la Cruz said. “They targeted our reinforcing force from Makilala by planting land mines along the route toward Barangay Bituan.”
The wounded militiamen were identified as Elmer Escamilla, 37, of Magpet, North Cotabato; Gredom Maybituin, 38, and Rolando Abastillas, 54, both of Carmen, North Cotabato; and Frederick Arcenal, 27, of Kidapawan City.
The soldiers who were killed remained unidentified, however, until their families shall have been informed, military officials said.
In a statement, the Armed Forces of the Philippines condemned the attack and the NPA’s use of improvised explosive devices, saying that they endangered civilians. It was also a violation of international laws, including the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Anti-Personnel Mines (Ottawa Treaty), the military added.
North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza also condemned the attacks.
“This act of atrocity has no place in a civilized society, more so with the use of land mines, which has long been prohibited under international covenants. The provincial government of Cotabato under its present administration has not failed in its peace initiatives and has long geared its efforts toward achieving a lasting peace for the people of the province,” Mendoza said in a statement.—With reports from Edwin Fernandez, Williamor Magbanua and Karlos Manlupig, Inquirer Mindanao, and Inquirer wires
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