Tuesday, May 25, 2010

3 soldiers killed, 5 wounded in rebel attacks in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / May 25, 2010) – Three government soldiers were killed and five more wounded in a firefight with communist rebels in the southern Philippines, officials said Tuesday.

Officials said the fighting broke out in the village of Maputi in Davao Oriental’s Banaybanay town where New People’s Army rebels also attacked government road project on Monday.

Captain Emmanuel Garcia, a spokesman for the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said the soldiers were guarding the road project when rebels attacked them. “We value the sacrifice of our troops from the 28th Infantry Battalion securing the Mati-Tagum road project who fought back in order to protect the interest of the people,” he said.

He said the rebels fled after the attacks, commandeering three dump trucks and using its drivers as shield from pursuing troops. He said the rebels freed one of the drivers, but held on to the others to help them carry their dead and wounded.

Garcia said the rebel attack was triggered by the failure of the construction firm, Maverick, to pay illegal taxes to the New People’s Army, which has been waging a secessionist war for many decades now.

“Such brutality is intended to sow fear and panic among our people and coerce them to support their large-scale extortion syndicate and prohibit our citizens from cooperating with authorities. Their increased level of attacks not only to soldiers, but against non-combatants is a ploy to force helpless people to bow down to their oppressive anti-people and anti development policy particularly in the countryside which reveals that they are not fighting for any ideology at all,” Garcia said.

But a rebel spokesman, Simon Santiago, said the attack was aimed at a military patrol base in the village. He said rebels raided the patrol base and seized at least 11 high-powered weapons, including machineguns and grenade launchers.

“A composite team of the New People's Army's 3rd Pulang Bagani Company and Front 18 Operations Command in Southern Mindanao raided the 28th Infantry Battalion patrol base. Three were instantly killed and four were wounded on the enemy side, while two surrendered and were freed by the Red fighters,” he said.

The rebel attacks came a day after the military deployed hundreds of soldiers in Davao Oriental province to augment thousands of troops battling communist insurgency in the restive region. (Mindanao Examiner)

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