Tuesday, August 11, 2009

NPA rebels own up raid in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / August 11, 2009) – Philippine communist rebels on Tuesday claimed responsibility for a raid at a military post in Davao del Norte province in Mindanao.

The New People’s Army said the raiders seized 15 automatic rifles during the raid at the military post on Sunday in the village of Napundas in Asuncion town. It also denied military reports that rebels held hostage four people, including a girl and a government soldier and used them as shield from pursuing troops.

“Nothing is farther from the truth than the worn-out black propaganda of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on this matter. No civilian was used as a shield before, during, and after the swift NPA raid that all took five minutes to complete.”

“No harm of any sort was done to the enemy personnel because they did not offer any armed resistance; this is an affirmation of the NPA’s commitment in upholding its internal rules of discipline and the international rules of war,” said Marcella Valiente, a spokesperson for the NPA’s Armando Dumandan Command.

The Army’s 10th Infantry Division said the rebels used the hostages to shield them from government forces.

“The rebels held two village officials, a child, and a government soldier and used them as shield against pursuing troops,” said Captain Rosa Maria Cristina Manuel, a spokeswoman for the Army’s 10th Infantry Division.

She said the rebels later freed all the hostages unharmed.

“As the 10th Infantry Division is mired in confusion and desperation, the People’s Army is right on track in forming new and additional platoons of Red fighters, armed by firearms confiscated from the enemy,” said Valiente.

It was unknown why soldiers deployed in the village failed to prevent the raid, but Major General Reynaldo Mapagu, the army division commander, has ordered an investigation into the attack.

Mapagu said that a board of inquiry to be led by the Division Inspector General has been tasked to conduct the investigation.

“This is to determine the background and the cause of the incident, lapses committed by our troops, probable violations of standard operating procedures and to come up with recommendations in order to avoid future occurrence of this sort, specifically to protect noncombatants in such cases without bowing to the terrorists’ demands.” Mapagu said.

The raid came ahead of the resumption of peace talks between rebels and government negotiators in October in Norway. Peace talks collapsed in 2004 after both sides failed to sign a deal that would put an en to more than four decades of bloody fighting in the country. Despite the talks, Manila and the NPA have no cease-fire agreement.

The rebels are fighting for the establishment of a Maoist state in the Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner)

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