NPA landmine attacks in North Cotabato condemned

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KIDAPAWAN CITY: North Cotabato officials including various sectors in the region have condemned the Monday’s attacks staged by the suspected New People’s Army (NPA) in barangays Caridad and Bituan in Tulunan town of North Cotabato, using an internationally ban “landmine” weapon, that left eight soldiers dead and five others wounded.

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Officials of the North Cotabato province led by Governor Emmyloue Taliño-Mendoza issued separate statements after receiving reports of the death of eight soldiers and wounding of five others in the attacks.

“Together with the most peace loving Cotabateños, I condemn in the strongest sense the ambush with the use of landmines,” Gov. Mendoza said.

“This act of atrocity has no place in a civilized society, more so with the use of landmines which has long been prohibited under international covenants. The Provincial Government of Cotabato under its present administration has not failed in its peace initiatives and has long geared its efforts to achieve a lasting peace for the people of the province,” Mendoza added.

“We urge those responsible in these illegal acts to stop them in order to enhance the healthy dynamism of forging a lasting peace,” said Mendoza, who has been helping push the government’s separate peace talks with the CPP-NPA and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Both the CPP-NPA and the MILF have existing enclaves in North Cotabato, but government authorities have been vocal against the communist guerilla’s “wayward” combat strategies and attacks even on private entities involved in road building operations in the province.

Church laymen also joined on Tuesday the condemnation, saying that Monday’s attacks in Tulunan town exemplified the disrespect of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in global rule on armed engagements.

“It’s like wildfire eroding the sympathy they (NPA) tried to build among countryside folks,” said a North Cotabato-based Catholic official who gave reaction on condition of anonymity.

Local affiliates of popular human rights groups expressed similar emotions, urging the leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines to refrain the NPA’s “inhuman war tactic” that tended to render the group’s ideology “irrelevant.” MOH I. SAADUDDIN

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