NPA rebels admit 14 dead in attack on private army
PROSPERIDAD, Agusan del Sur—Communist rebels admitted to have suffered heavy casualties in an attack on what they said was the head of a privately armed group that is being used by the military in its counterinsurgency campaign and serving as a protector of illegal mining and logging in two provinces.
The rebels made the admission in a statement, saying their target was a leader of the Manobo tribe, Calpito Equa, who was killed during the rebel attack together with three of his followers.
The New People’s Army (NPA), according to National Democratic Front (NDF) spokesperson Maria Malaya, suffered 14 casualties.
The bodies of 12 of the rebels were taken to Mendoza Funeral Homes here. Prosperidad Mayor Albin Magdamit said six of the bodies had been claimed.
At least four tribal warriors, known among the Manobo as “baganis,” were also killed in the clash, which erupted when at least 50 NPA members assaulted the house of Equa.
Police identified one of the slain rebels as Joseph Cainong, alias “Allan” and a resident of Barangay (village) Calaitan in Bayugan City.
Army officials admitted that the slain tribal warrior, Equa, and his followers were members of the militia Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit, which is helping the military in counterinsurgency operations.
Magdamit said the tribal warriors were also being used by Equa as guards in his mining tunnels and security escorts in the transportation of logs.
In the NDF statement, Malaya admitted that the NPA attack’s objective was to dismantle privately armed groups, among them that of Equa, as requested by people in the community.
The NDF spokesperson said Equa maintained privately armed groups in three locations—two in Prosperidad town and one in San Francisco town. Chris V. Panganiban, Inquirer Mindanao
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