GAMU, Isabela: The popularly known rebel commander Libre or Layden in the military intelligence was among those killed on Sunday’s firefight between the New People’s Army (NPA) and government troops in a remote village of Ifugao province, Army reports said.
The Army’s public affairs office of the Fifth Infantry Division (5th ID) here has confirmed the death of Eleseo “Artos” Talastas, commander of more or less 20 communist rebels, in a firefight in Barangay Butac, Aguinaldo town at around 5:30 a.m.
Fifth ID’s public affairs officer, First Lt. Rowena Abayan, said Talastas was the leader of the NPA Ifugao command of the NPA’s Kilusang Larangang Gerilya-Cordillera.
Pursuing Ifugao police operatives intercepted a jeep, which carried the bloodied body of Talastas at a checkpoint in Barangay Banawel in Aguinaldo town at about 3 p.m. Sunday, 12 hours after the morning firefight in Barangay Butac.
Talastas was among the three NPA rebel casualties during the encounter with government soldiers from the 54th Infantry Battalion who were on security operations in that remote upland village.
Recovered from the encounter site were six high powered firearms: three M16 rifles, two M14 assault rifles and an M203 grenade launcher, according to Col. Loreto Magundayao, chief of civilian-military operations battalion of the 5th ID.
The security patrol conducted by the Army in the area was in response to secret pleas made by reportedly disgruntled NPA members operating in the village where the incident took place, Army reports said.