ZAMBOANGA CITY – Fighting erupted between army soldiers and communist insurgents in Zamboanga del Sur’s Osmena town in southern Philippines that left two people dead, officials said on Sunday.
Major Ronald Suscano, a spokesman for the 1st Infantry Division, said soldiers from the 53rd Infantry Battalion, led by 1st Lieutenant Abner Pilando, engaged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in a running gun battle in the village of San Isidro. He said troops were responding to reports that rebels were harassing villagers when they ran into a band of NPA gunmen and firefight ensued.
The weekend fighting killed a soldier and a rebel, Suscano said. “The operating troops were able to intercept the NPA [rebels]and figured in a 15-minute firefight which compelled the enemy to scamper from the area,” he said.
Suscano said soldiers also recovered the body of the slain rebel, whose identity remains unknown. “One of our soldiers also died in the firefight,” he said.
Major General Roseller Murillo, the division commander, said the operation against the rebels would continue without let-up following the death of his soldier. “Our soldier died a hero while protecting our people and our communities. We will vigorously pursue these NPA terrorists until they will be left with no choice but surrender or get killed,” he said.
The rebels have been fighting for many decades now for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. AL JACINTO