ZAMBOANGA CITY: The Philippine military announced on Tuesday the capture of a communist rebel stronghold in Mindanao, but also said that two soldiers died from the mission following fierce clashes with the New People’s Army (NPA).
Captain Arvin Encinas, a spokesman for the 6th Infantry Division, said two battalions mounted the mission in Lake Sebu in South Cotabato province and eventually captured the rebel camp. The weekend fighting also killed two soldiers from the 27th Infantry Battalion, but Encinas did not release the identities of the fatalities.
He also insisted that seven rebels died but did not say whether troops recovered the bodies or not, or if the information was based only on intelligence reports.
Encina said fighting erupted in a cave in Sitio Datal Bonglangon in the village of Ned where rebels had maintained a camp. Troops also recovered weapons — a Carbine rifle, an Ingram machine pistol and four shotguns, including anti-government propaganda left behind by rebels.
Military operations continued on Tuesday but there was no fresh report of armed clashes between security and rebel forces in the town. The NPA has been fighting for many decades in an effort to put up its own Maoist state in the country. AL JACINTO