ZAMBOANGA CITY: The Philippine Army launched an operation to hunt down gunmen who shot dead an army scout ranger and seriously injured another officer in the restive region of Mindanao.
Capt. Alberto Caber, a spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Command, has confirmed the twin attacks, but he did not say who were behind them. He said motorcycle gunmen gunned down a member of the 12th Scout Ranger Company in the village of San Antonio in Compostela Valley’s Mabini town on July 16.
The soldier was returning home after bringing his son to school when two gunmen in separate motorcycles shot him, Caber said. “He was killed instantly. The soldier was unarmed and in civilian clothes,” he told The Manila Times without identifying the victim.
Caber said two gunmen riding tandem on a motorcycle also attacked Colonel Edwin Respecio in Cagayan de Oro City. He said Respecio, deputy commander of the army’s 10th Regional Community Defense Group, was travelling onboard a car when the gunmen shot him several times.
“The perpetrators who were riding in tandem immediately escaped after the incident,” he said, adding the officer survived the shooting, but was seriously injured. “The victim suffered gunshot wound in his left face. Colonel Respecio is now in stable condition.”
No individual or group claimed responsibility for the two daring attacks, but the region is a known stronghold of the communist rebel group New People’s Army, blamed by the military and police for the spate of ambuscades of soldiers and policemen in Mindanao.
The NPA has been fighting for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country.