Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Troops Clash With NPA In Zamboanga

KABASALAN, Zamboanga Sibugay (Mindanao Examiner / 29 Aug) Troops clashed with communist insurgents and killed a still undetermined number of gunmen in the southern Philippines, officials said.

The clash occurred in the village of Napo in the coastal town of Aurora in Zamboanga del Sur province and spread near Durano village in Kapatagan, a town west of Lanao del Norte province on Monday, Lt. Col. Bartolome Bacarro, a military spokesman, said.

"Undetermined number of insurgents is believed killed and soldiers recovered a .30-caliber machine gun and four M16 automatic rifles and one M203 grenade launcher," Bacarro said, adding, there were no military casualties.

Maj. Gen. Eugenio Cedo, a regional military commander, on Monday ordered soldiers to intensify their hunt against the New People's Army, blamed for the string of attacks and raids on army posts in the restive region.

Last week, insurgents raided an army detachment in the village of Banlag in Valencia City near Bukidnon province, killed a soldier and seized 30 assorted weapons.

The New People's Army is fighting the past three decades for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. The New People's Army boasts of more than 10,000 armed regulars, but the military estimates it at around 7,500.

Another NPA faction also raided last week a small village called Buayan in Kabasalan town east of Zamboanga City and took 14 people hostage for two hours before releasing them unharmed.

Town officials said the insurgents took food from the locals and ransacked a house before escaping to the hills.

The province is a known lair of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which broke off peace talks with Manila in 2004 after the United States and the European Union tagged the CPP and the NPA and their political arm the National Democratic Front as foreign terrorist organizations on the Filipino government’s prodding.

Since then, sporadic clashes escalated in the countryside and the rebels said they would only return to the peace talks if the US and European Union removed them from the terror lists. President Arroyo has ordered the military to crush the NPA and even set aside one billion pesos for the military and police to help fight insurgency.

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