Three NPA rebels killed in Mindanao

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ZAMBOANGA CITY: Government troops killed three communist rebels in a clash Sunday in southern Philippines, officials said.

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Capt. Alberto Caber, a spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Command, said the fighting broke out in Paradise Embac in Davao City’s Paquibato District following an attack by New People’s Army on a group of patrolling soldiers.

Citing reports by villagers, Caber said two of those killed have been identified as Randy Cornasa and Ruben Inlog, who were residents of the area. He did not say if the troops recovered the bodies of the slain rebels or not, but claimed soldiers managed to seize two homemade explosives and an automatic rifle left behind by rebels.

He said there were military casualties. “There was no casualty on the government side. Pursuit operations are still on-going as of this report,” Caber said.

The fighting erupted a day after the NPA freed a government soldier it held as prisoner since April this year in Saranggani province following heart-wrenching appeals by his family.

Communist rebels released Pfc. Khen Subere to Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of Davao City in the village of Tamadong in Sarangani’s Kiamba town on Saturday. Duterte handed the soldier, a member of the 27th Infantry Battalion, to the 10th Infantry Division in Davao City.

Instead of searching for Subere, his unit declared him AWOL or absent without an official leave barely a week after he disappeared while on an official mission in T’boli town in South Cotabato province.

The rebels, who recently announced they are holding Subere, demanded the military to pull out soldiers in the province to allow the safe release of the prisoner.

The 10th Infantry Division and Caber did not release any statement about Subere’s release.

Subere’s safe release came just after NPA rebels also freed recently two jail guards Juan Salazar and Feliciano Polan whom they seized in Surigao del Sur province in April. Their families also appealed to the communist group for the freedom of the prisoners.

The two men were released on a hinterland village in San Miguel town and handed over to church and political leaders led by Bishop Nerio Odchimar and Gov. Johnny Pimentel of Surigao del Sur.

They were captured after rebels ambushed their vehicle to free a prisoner, Jojean Alameda, who was falsely accused by the military as a member of the communist group. The military’s Eastern Mindanao Command insisted Alameda is a bomb maker.

Last December, rebels also seized Compostela Valley provincial jail warden Jose Mervin Coquilla and investigated him for alleged corruption and human rights abuses. He was also freed on January 19 on humanitarian grounds.

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