Saturday, May 27, 2006

3 Killed, 4 Wounded In Rebel Attack In Agusan Province

AGUSAN DEL SUR (Zamboanga Journal / 27 May) Communist insurgents attacked a southern Philippine village and killed three people and wounded four others, officials said Saturday.

Officials said among those killed were two relatives of a Catholic priest and a government soldier undertaking community works in the village of San Roque in Prosperidad town in Agusan del Sur province. Three other soldiers and a civilian were wounded in the Friday attack by New People's Army fighters under rebel leader Lorna Gomez.

"The soldiers were only helping villagers as part of their community outreach program and the rebels attacked them, killing an army trooper and two innocent civilians, who were relatives of a Carmelite priest in the area," Lt. Col. Francisco Simbajon, a spokesman for the Army's 4th Infantry Division, told the Zamboanga Journal.

Army Major General Cardozo Luna also condemned the killings and ordered troops to pursue the attackers.

Simbajon identified those killed as Pfc. Allan Quimotquimot, of the 29th Infantry Battalion, and civilians Danilo Bisak and Lito Vigonte, both 34, and related to Carmelite priest Arnel Globode.

"We still don't know the motive of the attack, but this barbaric act clearly shows that the NPA is a terrorist organization. They kill innocent civilians," he said.

The military earlier said it killed 2 NPA gunmen and wounded at least 6 more in fierce clashes the same day in Carmel village in the town of Bayugan on the other side of the province. Four soldiers were also injured in the battle, triggered by an NPA ambush on the village chieftain.

The province is a known NPA stronghold and earlier this month, security forces killed four 4 insurgents in the village of Los Angeles in the outskirts of Butuan City in the neighboring Agusan del Norte.

The rebels stepped up its offensive in the countryside after peace talks with Manila collapsed in 2004 following the pullout of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front from the negotiations due to their continued inclusion in the terror lists of the United States and the European Union.

Rebel leaders demanded that President Gloria Arroyo asks the United States and the European Union to strike them off from the terror lists before they resume peace talks. Manila also suspended safety and immunity guarantee for its negotiators following the collapse of the peace talks.

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