ZAMBOANGA CITY: Communist insurgents attacked a barangay ambulance on Sunday evening killing four people and wounding four others, including an 8-year-old girl, in Barangay Marfil, Rosario town, Agusan del Sur.
All the victims were returning home from a church activity when they were allegedly ambushed by more than 20 armed men, believed to be members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
Lieutenant Jolito Borces, Civil-Military Operations Officer of the 6th Infantry Division, blamed members of the Guerrilla Front 14 for the attack. He added that the rebel unit operates in the Agusan-Surigao del Sur area.
Killed on the spot were Neljoy Cerna, 27, and Noni Mabong, 51. Responders were still able to rush victims Alfrado Cerna, 51, and Vanessa Sabas, 30, to the hospital where they later died.
Those injured were identified as Brgy. Marfil Chairman Emilio Solidor Jr., 49, Liza Casilla, 47, and Elmer Adonos, 37. The child was identified as Mae Roselyn Adonis.
It was not clear why the rebels attacked the civilian vehicle, which was then traversing Road 2, Sitio Laray in Barangay Marfil, but some reports say a few village leaders and pro-government militias were riding along with the victims when the incident happened.
No rebel group has issued a statement to own the incident. Eastern Mindanao, where Rosario is located, is said to be a stronghold for the Maoist rebels, who are fighting for decades now to establish their own communist state in the country.
In an interview, Borces narrated that Solidor used the barangay ambulance to attend a thanksgiving celebration of the Wayside Bible Baptist Church, which is two kilometers away from the incident.
Fourteen people, including eight children, accompanied the Solidor when the incident happened.
A pursuit operation has been launched by troops from the 75th Infantry Battalion.
Earlier, the rebels, who boasted of mass support from villagers in the region, captured two policemen in nearby Surigao del Norte province. The NPA guerrillas were reported to have set up a roadblock before nabbing PO3 Democrito Polvorosa and PO1 Marichel Contemplo.
The two policemen were on a prowl car when about two dozen rebels hailed and captured them. Four days before that, the rebels also captured PO1 Junrie Amper in Malimono town, Surigao del Sur province.
with reports from Al Jacinto