PAGADIAN CITY: Communist rebels on Tuesday disarmed a mayor and his bodyguards at a checkpoint in San Miguel town in Zamboanga del Sur province, police said.
Police said that the rebels flagged down the vehicle of Pitogo town mayor Richard Garban and ordered him and his group to disembark in the village of Mati where the New People’s Army set up a checkpoint.
The rebels seized the politician’s gun and weapons of his escorts before allowing them to leave. Garban told the police that at least 15 gunmen, clad in police uniform, were manning the checkpoint.
Police said the rebels were stopping all vehicles passing the village that leads to Pagadian City, the provincial capital.
Garban said the rebels carted two automatic rifles and three automatic pistols. Police have dispatched two teams to track down the rebels. The military also deployed troops to pursue the gunmen.
There was no immediate statement from the NPA about its operation, but the province is a known lair of the rebel group, which has been fighting for decades for a separate state in the country.