• Troops, militias repulse rebel attack

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    ZAMBOANGA CITY: New People’s Army (NPA) rebels attacked a military detachment in southern Philippines sparking a three-hour gun battle, but security officials on Saturday said there was no report of govern- ment casualties.

    Officials said the fighting in the village of Magnaga in Compostela Valley’s Pantukan town lasted more than 3 hours.

    The rebels tried, but failed to overrun the detachment after militias fought fiercely side by side with government troops, according to the 10th Infantry Division.

    It said the concerted efforts of battalion commanders Lt. Col. Alexis Bravo, of the 72nd Infantry Battalion Cadre, and Lt. Col. Francisco Lorenzo, of the 28th Infantry Battalion, hampered the NPA attempt to take the detachment.

    Col. Benjamin Madrigal, commander of the 701st Infantry Brigade, condemned the attack, saying it put the lives of innocent civilians in grave danger.

    “The attack is an act of total disregard of the safety and welfare of innocent civilians and cowardice of the New People’s Army for placing the lives of the villagers in grave danger. It is unfortunate that this group continues to endanger the lives of the civilians. They have done this as our peace and development outreach program is gaining ground in the area, as such, in the spirit of Bayanihan, the Army enjoins everyone to condemn those who use violence and intimidation against the people,” Madrigal said.

    The NPA is fighting for a separate Maoist state in the country.

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