Five soldiers were injured Sunday morning in an encounter with some 50 fully-armed communist rebels in a remote village in Makilala town in the southern Philippine province of North Cotabato.
Reports reaching the Makilala Police said troops from the 57th Infantry Battalion were patrolling the hinterlands of Barangay Batasan, a known lair of New Peoples’ Army rebels, when they chanced upon the insurgents, triggering a firefight that lasted for 40 minutes.
The rebels withdrew to the upper portion of Barangay Buenavida after troops from the 68th Infantry Battalion reinforced the patrolling soldiers, reports said.
At least 51 families from two villages in Makilala evacuated to safer areas for fear that the fighting might continue and they would be caught in the crossfire.
Of that number, 40 families were from Purok-6, Barangay Batasan, and 11 from Sitio Apoy-Apoy, Barangay Buenavida.
The local government unit of Makilala has already sent food items to the evacuees.
Names of the injured soldiers were not yet available as of posting time.