DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 18, 2011) – Communist rebels clashed Tuesday with government troops, killing two of them and wounding eight infantrymen on a village in Davao City in the southern Philippines, officials told the Mindanao Examiner.
Officials said a still undetermined number of New People’s Army rebels were either killed or wounded in the fighting that erupted at dawn in Paquibato district, a known stronghold of insurgents. Lieutenant Colonel Joshua Santiago, a spokesman for the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said soldiers, backed by police commandos, had tracked down a rebel encampment where about 30 gunmen were resting, but troops tripped off an improvised bomb which exploded.
The explosion alerted the rebels under Leoncio Pitao and sparked a fierce firefight. He said among the wounded were an army officer and four police commandos who are members of the Special Action Force.
“The troops were able to locate the harboring site of the New People’s Army who were soundly resting while they (soldiers) were crawling near them. However, an improvised explosive bomb exploded, when tripped-off by the operating troops that immediately hit the soldiers on the advance. Troops in the rear immediately maneuvered and returned fire,” Santiago said.
He said the rebels were extorting illegal taxes and collecting food from villagers.
Lieutenant Colonel Aniano Orap-Orap, commander of the unit that clashed with rebels, said the NPA has repeatedly used improvised explosives that put the lives of civilians at risk in Davao City.
“This is an abuse of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Right and International Humanitarian Law. Likewise, the continued use of improvised explosive device of the NPA is a clear violation of the International Warfare Agreements,” he said, adding prior to the fighting troops had recovered three anti-personnel explosives planted by rebels in the village.
The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines which is currently negotiating peace with Manila. The rebels are fighting for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. (Mindanao Examiner)