• NPA leader slain in Davao

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    A senior leader of the New People’s Army (NPA) was killed after attacking policemen trying to arrest him in Davao City while military troops clashed with communist insurgents in Zamboanga del Sur.

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    Authorities said members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) fatally shot Berdan Ramos, 40, NPA liaison officer, after he opened fire at policemen serving an arrest warrant at his hideout.

    Police recovered a handgun and an improvised bomb from Ramos, who was wanted for a string of criminal charges.

    Also on Wednesday, an encounter between the NPA rebel and soldiers on patrol erupted in the village of Mati in Tigbao, Zamboanga del Sur.

    There was no report of casualties from both sides, but Army Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, said soldiers recovered a caliber 45 pistol, ammunition for AK47 automatic rifle and four mobile phones left behind by the rebels belonging to the Sandatahang Yunit Panggubatan Kara of the Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee.

    “Troops are currently scouring the area of engagement. The military continues to assist the police and the local government units in the intensified conduct of law enforcement operations to expedite the arrest of NPA members in the province of Zamboanga del Sur,” she added.

    Meanwhile, in Cagayan province in Northern Luzon, a soldier was killed while five rebels were wounded in an encounter between the military and the NPA in Santo Niño town also on Wednesday.

    The Philippine Army’s 17th Infantry Battalion (IB) under the 5th Infantry Division (5th ID) based at Melchor C. dela Cruz Camp identified the fatality as Private First Class Rowel Tabuada from Tuao town in Cagayan.

    The military report said the 17th IB troops were patrolling Barangay Balani in Santo Niño town when an undetermined number of armed men believed to be NPA members opened fire at them, triggering a fierce gunfight.

    Aside from the five reportedly wounded, the military believed there were also fatalities on the side of the rebels based on traces of blood found at the clash site after the 20-minute exchange of fire.

    WITH LEANDER C. DOMINGO

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