Red commander among 7 dead in clash between soldiers, NPA – Army
DIGOS CITY, Philippines – The death toll in Monday’s clash between soldiers and New People’s Army rebels in Alabel, Sarangani province has risen to seven with the recovery of two more bodies – including that of a rebel leader, the commander of the Army unit involved in the incident said Tuesday.
Lt. Col. Ronnie Felix Babac of the 73rd Infantry Battalion based in Malita, Davao Occidental told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone that among the seven slain rebels during the clash in Sitio Tugal in Barangay (village) Anggas, was Tolentino Bariquit, also known as Commander Brigol of the NPA’s Front 71.
“We have seven bodies in the area,” Babac said.
He said during the initial clearing operations, soldiers had recovered six M-16 rifles, 2 AK-47 rifles, and a Baby Armalite along with personal belongings.
Based on the number of firearms recovered, Babac said that the military believed the NPA suffered injuries too.
He said his instruction to the soldiers was clear and that was to evacuate wounded rebels in case they were captured too.
“We believe many insurgents were wounded during the encounter since those conducting the clearing operations also spotted blood stains in the area,” Babac said, adding that “the wounded must be brought to the hospital.”
He said the clearing operation continued as of Tuesday and that a team of soldiers was also deployed in the village to prevent the rebels from coming back.
The Alabel clash took place when soldiers were sent to the village to check on the reported presence of rebels there.
The military said it has expected NPA activities to spike in view of the approaching anniversary of the communist movement.
On Sunday, the NPA also tried but failed to overtake the Mati City police station.
At least five people — two New People’s Army rebels and three soldiers — were killed in a 30-minute gun battle that saw the attackers setting off an improvised bomb hitting an Army unit out to reinforce the beleaguered policemen, said Senior Supt. Jose Carumba, Davao Oriental police chief.
On Monday morning, the rebels involved in the foiled attack also fired at the convoy of Chief Supt. Wendy Rosario, the Southern Mindanao police chief, while he and members of the 11th Regional Public Safety Battalion were traveling along the national highway in Barangay Badas on their way to Mati City.
Rosario said the rebels also detonated a landmine, which slightly damaged one of their vehicles.
No one was reported hurt in Monday’s attack. With a report from Karlos Manlupig, Inquirer Mindanao
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