Friday, May 22, 2009

NPA rebels seize 2 cops, soldier in southern Philippines; army commander wounded in clash

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / May 22, 2009) – An army commander was injured after his unit clashed Friday with communist rebels who seized two police officers and soldier in Compostela Valley province in the southern Philippines, officials said.

Officials said Colonel Roberto Ancan, commander of 25th Infantry Battalion, was shot by New People’s Army rebels as his unit tried to rescue the police officers in Monkayo town.

“Colonel Ancan is wounded in the fighting and was rushed to the hospital. He was shot in the shoulder. He is okay. Pursuit operation is going on,” Captain Rosa Maria Cristina Manuel, a spokeswoman for the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, told the Mindanao Examiner.

She said the rebels seized the police officers and soldier on a village called Pasian.

“There two police officers were abducted at a rebel checkpoint in Pasian and we are still awaiting more details about the abduction of our soldier, but he is now being held by the NPA,” Manuel said.
Major General Reynaldo Mapagu, the division commander, has ordered troops to pursue the rebels.

“The NPAs are certainly demoralized and defeated that is why they have to resort to kidnapping and eventually use their victims as shield and project the image of a Good Samaritan,” he said.

The news of abduction came barely two weeks after rebels freed a captured government soldier in Compostela Valley, where security forces are battling the NPA.

The NPA said it freed the soldier, Private First Class Ronnie Trinidad, on humanitarian grounds. Rebels captured Trinidad, who belongs to the 66th Infantry Battalion, on April 28 at a checkpoint in the village of Pagsabangan in New Bataan town.

Trinidad was seized while on his way to barracks with another soldier, Corporal Japhet Lavid, who had escaped from rebels.

The NPA said it released after the soldier’s family and other groups appealed for his liberty.

The NPA is the armed wing of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines, which has been waging a secessionist war in the country. Peace talks between Manila and the CPP-NPA collapsed in 2004 after both sides failed to sign an agreement to end more than four decades of bloody fighting. (Mindanao Examiner)

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