ZAMBOANGA CITY: The New People’s Army (NPA) on Sunday ambushed government troops in Compostela Valley where the communist rebel group earlier attacked two mining firms for destroying the environment.
NPA spokesperson Daniel Ibarra said the offensive over the weekend was a follow-up to an earlier attacks the United States-owned St. Augustine Gold and Copper Ltd. on April 7 and Malaysia-owned Apex Mining on April 10.
Ibarra said a still undetermined number of government soldiers were either killed or wounded in the NPA attack that targeted the Ninth Infantry Battalion deployed at the Apex tenement complex in the village of Masara in Maco town.
He said the two mining companies “grossly and repeatedly violated regulations of the People’s Democratic Government with regards to environmental protection, workers’ welfare and people’s livelihood.”
Ibarra said rebel forces destroyed mining tunnels, trucks and heavy equipment of Apex Mining, including portable drills owned by St. Augustine mines in Pantukan town.
Tribesmen have longed complained against the intrusion of huge mining firms in their ancestral domain and sought help from the rebels to stop the destruction of their lands and exploitation of their natural resources.
Army Capt. Alberto Caber, a spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Command, said regional military chief, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz 3rd ordered troops to pursue the attackers.
Caber said the rebels have been extorting money from mining firms and even civilians to raise money for terror attacks in the region.
The NPA, which has been fighting for decades now for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country, has warned mining firms to stop its operations in Mindanao or face assault.