Two soldiers killed, four injured as NPA, military clash
MANILA, Philippines– Two soldiers were killed and four were hurt in an ambush by New People’s Army (NPA) in Quezon, 7:30a.m. Monday, two days after the arrest of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) chairman Benito Tiamzon and his wife.
Soldiers from the Army’s 85th Infantry Battalion were aboard a KM450 truck for a medical mission in Vegaflor village in Lopez town when they were ambushed in Cogorin village, Brigadier General Alex Capina, Commander of the 201st Brigade, said.
One officer, a lieutenant, and a solder, a Private First Class were killed. They, however, were not identified.
Lieutenant Colonel Oliver Maquiling, civil-military operations chief of the Army 2nd Infantry Division, condemned the attacks.
“This is not a combat operation,” Maquiling said. “We condemn this act by the NPA, the men were supposed to help the people in the area.”
Capina could not say whether the rebels used a bomb.
“Possibly, but we are also conducting an operation in the other side….Their anniversary is also near so we are conducting operations and they saw an opportunity,” Capina said when asked if this was part of the expected retaliatory attacks following the arrest of Tiamzon.
The CPP will celebrate its 45th year on March 29, making it one of the longest-running insurgencies in Asia.
Series of encounters
The military also engaged with the NPA thrice in Eastern Visayas on Sunday.
Reports from the Army’s 8th Infantry Division said the first encounter happened past 10a.m. near Capoto-an village in Las Navas town, Northern Samar.
Troops from the Army’s 34th Infantry Battalion pre-empted a supposed offensive by the communist rebels. They were fired upon as they got closer to the rebels’ location, which led to a 15-minute encounter.
The second encounter, meanwhile, was past 12 noon in Cuenco village of the same town, or four kilometers from the first encounter. This time, the 10-minute firefight was between the Army’s 1st Scout Ranger Battalion and the NPA.
There were no reported casualties from the government side, but on NPA’s part, there were “traces of blood” along the routes where the rebels fled.
The third encounter was in Buluan village in Calbiga in Samar, and lasted for 15 minutes. Soldiers from the Army’s 1st Scout Ranger Battalion caught up with the rebels hiding near the village center.
An M14 rifle was seized and the owner was reported to be fatally wounded but fled with his comrades.
Last week, one rebel was killed in an encounter in Canlobo village in Pinabacdao in Samar.
Military ready for retaliatory attacks
On Sunday, the Malacañang said it is ready for the possibility of retaliation by the NPA.
“We are ready to protect the citizenry, our population and, and the Armed Forces are always ready to defend them,” Palace spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said. With a report from Bong Lozada
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