Troops killed in NPA attacks in Mindanao

The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper - - News - (With a report from Malou Cablinda)

DAVAO CITY – Fighting erupted in southern Philippines between military forces and communist rebels and leaving about a dozen casualties as troops continue to hunt down members of the New People’s Army in the troubled region.

Rigoberto Sanchez, a rebel spokesman, said 8 government soldiers were killed and three more wounded in separate clashes last week in Monkayo town in Compostela Valley province. He said rebel forces also seized at least 6 automatic weapons from the slain soldiers, who were members of the 25th Infantry Battalion.

“The NPA'S punitive action is a just reprisal in the face of atrocities committed by the 25th Infantry Battalion combat soldiers such as ransacking of civilian houses and farms, mauling and intimidation of peasants and Lumads in Monkayo town since June.”

“In fact, the notorious army unit had not reduced the intensity of its combatintelligence-psychological warfare operations in the communities during President Rodrigo Duterte's short-lived unilateral ceasefire,” Sanchez said.

He said rebel forces in Mindanao were ordered to remain in heightened alert and continue its assault on government troops, particularly those who are operating in civilian communities and “pursue revolutionary justice for the basic masses who are victims of repression and fascist abuses.”

On Friday, rebels also killed a member of the army’s 1st Special Forces Battalion in fierce clashes in the village of Lilingayon in Bukidnon’s Valencia City, according to the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command.

Major Ezra Balagtey, a regional army spokesman, said troops were sent to the village where rebels had been collecting money and food from residents. He said soldiers caught up with the insurgents and a firefight erupted and lasted for 2 hours.

He did not say if there were enemy casualties, but added troops managed to recover two AK-47 automatic rifles, two M653 rifles and five M-16 automatic rifles and munitions, including an improvised explosive and transceiver radios left behind by rebels.

“The report of civilians that led to the incident is a reminder on the part of the lawless armed group that they are not welcome in the communities. That the peace-loving populace do not support armed struggle is enough reason for the NPA to heed the President's call, lay down their arms and abandon armed struggle for lasting peace and inclusive development,” Balagtey said.

The NPA has been fighting to overthrow the democratic government for decades now in an effort to put up its own Maoist state in the country. Manila has reopened peace talks with communist leaders and both sides are expected to resume formal negotiations in Oslo, Norway this month.

Experts from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources conduct site selection and orientation for National Shellfish Development Program in Maimbung town in Sulu province.

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