ZAMBOANGA CITY: Fighting erupted between military forces and communist rebels in Compostela Valley, leaving about a dozen casualties.
Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesman of the New People’s Army (NPA), said eight government soldiers were killed and three were wounded in separate clashes in Monkayo town in Compostela Valley province. He said rebel forces also seized at least six automatic weapons from the slain soldiers, who were members of the 25th Infantry Battalion.
“The NPA’s punitive action is a just reprisal in the face of atrocities committed by the 25th Infantry Battalion combat soldiers such as ransacking of civilian houses and farms, mauling and intimidation of peasants and Lumads in Monkayo town since June,” Sanchez said.
“In fact, the notorious army unit had not reduced the intensity of its combat-intelligence-psychological warfare operations in the communities during President Rodrigo Duterte’s short-lived unilateral ceasefire,” he added.
He said rebel forces in Mindanao were ordered to remain in heightened alert and continue their assault on government troops, particularly those who are operating in civilian communities.
On Friday, rebels also killed a member of the Army’s 1st Special Forces Battalion in fierce clashes in the village of Lilingayon in Valencia City, Bukidnon, according to the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command.
Major Ezra Balagtey, regional army spokesman, said troops were sent to the village where rebels had been collecting money and food from residents. He said soldiers caught up with the insurgents and a firefight erupted that lasted for two hours.
He did not say if there were enemy casualties, but that troops managed to recover two AK-47 automatic rifles, two M-653 rifles and five M-16 automatic rifles and munitions, including an improvised explosive and transceiver radios that were left behind by the rebels.
“The report of civilians that led to the incident is a reminder on the part of the lawless armed group that they are not welcome in the communities. That the peace-loving populace do not support armed struggle is enough reason for the NPA to heed the President’s call, lay down their arms and abandon armed struggle for lasting peace and inclusive development,” Balagtey said.