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Soldier killed, 2 wounded in Quezon NPA landmine blast

LUCENA CITY – A soldier was killed while two other troopers were wounded after landmine planted by suspected New People’s Army rebels in Lopez town in Quezon province exploded Monday night.

Col. Elias Escarcha, commander of the Army’s 201st Infantry Brigade, reported that the soldiers were onboard a military truck when the landmine exploded along a road in Barangay Bagong Silang at around 8 p.m.

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The blast was then followed by an attack by an undetermined number of rebels which triggered an exchange of fire.

“But we were able to reinforce our troops,” Escarcha said in a text message to the Inquirer.

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Police report said the soldiers were traveling towards the 85th Infantry Battalion headquarters in Barangay Villa Principe in the nearby town of Gumaca.

Killed during the one-hour gun battle was Private First Class Nilo Julian while the wounded were identified as Sgt. Victor Bartocillo and Corporal Jonathan Baylar.

They were rushed to St. Jude General Hospital in Lopez for medical treatment.

Escarcha said he has no information yet if the NPA rebels sustained casualties.

He said the military’s explosive ordnance disposal team has yet to finish its investigation if the landmine was command detonated or contact detonated.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines has long condemned the use of landmines by the communist guerillas.

The use of landmines, the military said, was a clear violation of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and the convention banning the use of the explosive devices where the Philippines is one of the signatories.

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But the communist rebels have long maintained that their explosives are legitimate weapons of war and are allowed by existing international treaties.

The rebels claimed that the use of “command-detonated landmines” as opposed to “contact-detonated” ones, was not a violation of the mine ban treaty.

The attack happened amid the scheduled signing of “interim peace agreement” (IPA) between the government and communist-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines that would lead to the resumption of the formal peace talks this month.    /muf

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TAGS: ambush, Army, Landmine, NPA, quezon
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