Philippine Daily Inquirer

NPA rebels blast pesticide spray plane of banana firm in Compostela Valley

- Frinston L. Lim, Inquirer Mindanao

TAGUM CITY—Over a dozen communist rebels stormed an airstrip owned by a multinatio­nal banana company and blasted a parked light plane in Maragusan, Compostela Valley province, on Saturday, police on Sunday said.

An estimated 15 heavily-armed New People’s Army guerrillas swooped down on the compound of Dole-Stanfilco Philippine­s in Barangay Mapawa at 10:20 p.m., said Southern Mindanao police regional spokespers­on Supt. Antonio Rivera.

The rebels forced their way to the company’s hangar located in Purok Narra, firing at the guardhouse, and planted an improvised explosive device under the S2R-G10 Walter spray plane.

The attackers then set off the explosive, damaging the crop duster (RP-R1777), before they fled, Rivera said.

Damage to the aircraft was being ascertaine­d as investigat­ion was underway, the police spokespers­on said.

The company, which owns a vast banana plantation in the upland town of Maragusan, has been subject to attacks by alleged NPA rebels in the past, with banana-laden container trucks being burned, but Saturday’s incident was the first against the firm’s handful fleet of spray planes.

No one was reported hurt during the incident.

Police and military officials have blamed extortion as possible motive.

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