NPA rebels kill 5 soldiers in Ilocos Sur ambush
MANILA, Philippines–Five soldiers were killed while six others were injured when they were ambushed by communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Quirino, Ilocos Sur, on Thursday night.
Reports reaching Camp Aguinaldo, showed that the ambush took place in Barangay (village) Namitpit, Quirino town.
Around 15 rebels allegedly attacked the government troops who were returning home following a law enforcement operation at around 8 p.m. on Thursday. The ambushed soldiers belonged to the 81st Infantry Battalion and the Regional Public Safety Battalion.
Lt. Col. Jason Bajet, 81st Infantry Battalion commander, said the government troops were traveling on board military trucks when they were waylaid by communist rebels, who positioned themselves near civilian houses by the road.
“The NPA used the civilians as human shields in that encounter. My troops tried their best to avoid civilian casualties by controlling their fire,” Bajet said.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines condemned the NPA’s use of human shields and the attack on civilian ambulances carrying the injured as violations of international humanitarian law and laws on armed conflict.
The AFP said these instances were against the provisions of the Geneva Convention and are also punishable under Philippine laws.
In a press briefing in Camp Aguinaldo, Col. Restituto Padilla said they would file appropriate cases against the NPA leaders responsible for the attack.
The casualties were retrieved only on Friday morning. Two Huey helicopters were sent to recover the casualties from the encounter site.
During the firefight, Bajet said his troops immediately dismounted to suppress the enemy.
Reinforcements and civilian ambulances arrived at around 10 p.m., but the rebels allegedly fired at the ambulances, prompting the drivers to turn back and position themselves in a safer location.
The soldiers treated their wounded comrades using their combat life saver kits and individual first aid kits during the gun battle.
“I commend my combat medics for their expertise in giving first aid to the wounded soldiers. They saved those who sustained injuries in this firefight,” Bajet said.
Meanwhile, AFP Chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. extended his condolences to the families of the slain soldiers, adding that their heroism and sacrifices will not be in vain.
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