ZAMBOANGA CITY: Six people were killed in fighting between security and rebel forces following a raid at a police station in Davao Oriental province in southern Philippines, officials said on Monday.
Officials said dozens of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels attacked the police station in Mati City late on Sunday, triggering a gun battle that killed one of the raiders and injured an officer.
An unidentified civilian and army soldier Adel Lucanan were also killed by rebels. Three other infantrymen Daniel Damansila, Jr, Ryan Amigo and Ian Mark Babiera —who were pursuing the attackers, were also killed in a landmine explosion set off by the NPA. Four other soldiers—Virgil Logronio, Emerito Castillo, Wil Christian Resuelo and Zaldy Canonero— were injured in the blast.
Army Maj. Ezra Balagtey, a spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Command, said some 50 rebels were involved in the daring attack. He said they arrived in two vans, a truck and five motorcycles which were believed stolen.
Balagtey said troops were quickly dispatched to the area and pursued the rebels, engaging them in a running gun battle. “The police were able to defend initially the station and fight it out with the attacking NPA bandits until the arrival of reinforcing mechanize troops from 701st Brigade engaging them in a running gun battle,” he said.
General Aurelio Baladad, chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command, ordered security forces to track down the rebels. He also commended the policemen and soldiers who clashed with the NPA.
“While we grieve for our casualties brought about by the continuous blatant violation of international humanitarian law by the NPAs—by using landmines and targeting also non-military persons—this will not stop us from pursuing them and preventing their anti-people atrocities,” Baladad said.
The daring raid occurred just even as the military declared the province as “insurgency-free.”
The NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has been fighting for many decades now for the establishment of a separate state in the country.