Bombing reports stop classes in Abra town
Elementary and high school classes in Malibcong town in Abra province were suspended on Wednesday, following reports of alleged government bombing operations that targeted suspected communist lairs in the area.
Neither the Cordillera police nor the military had responded to queries on the operations that took place four days after New People’s Army (NPA) rebels raided a police station in Malibcong on March 12.
On March 13, a convoy of Abra police officers, led by Senior Supt. Alexander Tagum, Abra police director, was attacked by armed men, leaving five policemen wounded.
But Insp. Marcy Grace Marron, Abra police information officer, said the police had not received information about bombing operations in Malibcong.
A plane dropped what appeared to be bombs near Barangay Lat-ey from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. on Wednesday, according to Antonio Ambalneg, a village councilman.
He said the plane returned and unloaded bombs on rice fields and forests from 1:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Villagers counted 14 explosions, he said, adding that a blast triggered a fire in a communal forest near Sitio Cubcuba in Lat-ey.
Classes would be suspended until March 20, the Inquirer learned.
The NPA admitted raiding the Malibcong police station on Sunday. Rebels also engaged five policemen in a firefight that was later stopped by town elders.
In a statement, the Chadli Molintas Command operating in the Ilocos and Cordillera regions said the attack complied with the directives of its central committee in light of the all-out war stance taken by President Duterte in February.
In Agusan del Norte province, more than 300 residents fled their homes in the remote village of Hinimbangan in Kitcharao town after the NPA attacked soldiers there on Wednesday.
The Army’s 4th Infantry Division said NPA rebels fired at the soldiers who were patrolling the village.
The rebels, military reports said, forced school officials in the village to cancel classes that day. No one was reported wounded in the firefight.
“Our troops were there to help the (local government) in identifying the needs of the community in order to alleviate their living condition,” said Lt. Col. Glenn Joy Aynera, commander of the 29th Infantry Battalion.
Aynera said the NPA, with the attack, violated the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect to Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, which was signed by negotiators of the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in the peace talks. —REPORTS FROM KIMBERLIE QUITASOL, JIGGER J. JERUSALEM AND CYNTHIA D. BALANA
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