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60 families evacuated as troops, rebels clash

BACOLOD CITY: Sixty families were evacuated in a northeastern city of Negros Occidental early Saturday morning as military troops and suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels clashed, leaving three soldiers injured.

Capt. Rowell Dairocas, Civil Military Operations officer of the 79th Infantry Battalion (IB), said the evacuees came from Sitio Morino, Barangay Paitan, Escalante City in Negros Occidental.

The firefight ensued as the soldiers from the 79th IB conducted combat operations after receiving reports of NPA presence in the area.

The clash, in which the rebels used an anti-personnel mine before fleeing to Sitio Sampinit in Barangay Paitan, lasted 45 minutes, a report from the military said.

The three soldiers, who sustained slight injuries, were Cpl. Homer Aniversario, who was injured in the upper left part of the neck; Cpl. Ronald Tuhao, who was hit in one of the toes in his right leg; and Cpl. Jerald Caluyo, who was wounded in the right ear.

They were brought to a hospital for medical treatment and are now in stable condition.

The military, citing reports from the soldiers and residents, said the NPA rebels suffered five casualties, who were dragged away by the other insurgents.

The troops recovered subversive documents and an anti-personnel mine during the clearing operation in the area.

Additional soldiers and two helicopters from the Philippine Air Force were deployed for pursuit operations.

Dairocas said a Quick Reaction Team composed of personnel from the Escalante City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, City Health Office, and City Social Welfare and Development Office was immediately organized.

The team distributed relief goods and Disaster Assistance Family Access cards to the evacuees and conducted medical check-up.

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