AT least nine communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were killed while an Army soldier was wounded in an encounter at Caranglan town, Nueva Ecija on Wednesday morning.
Caranglan town police identified the wounded soldier only as Corporal Buenavista of the 84th Infantry Battalion (84IB) under the 71st Infantry Division (71ID) of the Philippine Army.
The fatalities on the rebel side were identified as Joel Manangan alias Ka Razul, while three were only identified as “Gian,” “Bunso” and “Asok.” The five others were unidentified.
Their bodies were brought to the Caranglan military camp.
Police said the firefight, which started at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, happened in the remote sub-village of Barat in Barangay Burgos and lasted for about three hours.
Forty-three soldiers from the 84IB and 71ID of the Military Intelligence Company carried out the intelligence-driven combat operations against more than 30 communist rebels under Manangan.
Authorities said at least nine high-powered firearms were recovered from the rebels including an AK47, M14, two M653, five M16 rifles and an M203 grenade launcher. Eight backpacks with documents pertaining to NPA operations were recovered along with the slain rebels.
A belated intelligence report said the NPA rebels could have been part of the dispersed group which recently staged an attack against government troops in the upland town of Kasibu in the nearby province of Nueva
Vizcaya on September 1.
At least four Army soldiers died during the attack.
Meanwhile, NPA rebels killed a Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) member in Arakan, North Cotabato on Tuesday, three days after the fatal ambush of an off-duty soldier in nearby Matalam town.
Senior Supt. Jonathan Tangonan, North Cotabato police director, identified the victim as Jeffrey Bitonio. He was riding a motorcycle on his way home from their detachment in Barangay Anapolon when NPA guerillas, positioned on one side of the road, opened fire with assault rifles killing him instantly.
The gunmen immediately fled to the hinterlands northwest of the village.
On Saturday, Private 1st Class Jimmy Marcelo of the Army’s 39th Infantry Battalion was ambushed and killed by the communist group in nearby Matalam town. The Army man was also riding a motorcycle en route to Matalam town proper from their detachment when attacked by the rebels armed with assault rifles.
WITH JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL