Soldier killed in clash with rebels who attacked Surigao mine site
MANILA, Philippines—An elite Army trooper died from wounds suffered on Wednesday when his platoon clashed with suspected communist New People’s Army guerrillas believed responsible for the Oct. 3 attack on three mining companies in the town of Claver in Surigao del Norte.
A platoon of the 14th Scout Ranger Company encountered at least 10 rebels in Sitio Babang in the municipality of Jabonga in the adjoining province of Agusan Del Norte at about 1 p.m. and engaged them in a gun battle, Philippine Army spokesperson Maj. Harold Cabunoc said.
“The rebels fled after the 15-minute firefight, leaving behind improvised bombs and subversive documents,” Cabunoc said, quoting from a report from Lt. Col. Kiram Azgar Grajo, commander of the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion.
One of the soldiers, Pfc Andres Vergara, was wounded in the fighting and expired while being evacuated to a hospital.
“I recognize the personal sacrifices of our soldiers. He has not died in vain, he will always be remembered for his heroism,” Army chief Lt. Gen. Arturo Ortiz said in a statement.
Cabunoc said the troops were hot on the trail of the more than 200 NPA rebels who torched the facilities of three mining firms in Surigao del Norte in an attack that cost millions of pesos in damage.
The communist leadership denied that the attack was prompted by the refusal of the firms to pay revolutionary taxes, citing instead environmental and other violations as their motive.
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