Philippines – The Jose Rapsing Command of the New People’s Army (NPAJRC) in Masbate has extended its condolences to the families of about 10 soldiers killed when three military units ﬁred at each other on March 19 in the mistaken belief that they were confronting NPA guerrillas.
Speaking on behalf of NPA JRC, Luz del Mar said no NPA guerrilla was involved in the clashes, which started when a military unit tried to close in on an NPA squad that was preparing to spring a surprise on troops of the Alpha Company of the same battalion and members of the 93rd Division Reconnaissance Company (DRC) undertaking operations in the interior towns of Dimasalang and Palanas.
“While the unit was positioning, it received reports from the masses about a group of armed men approaching the NPA squad, forcing it to change position. Meanwhile, a platoon of soldiers arrived and took position in front of the place earlier held by guerrillas,” Del Mar said.
“Another group of troops approached the same position from another direction and ﬁring ensued, with the two units not knowing they were all military men due to the creeping darkness,” she added.
“The ﬁring lasted for about 30 minutes, with the groups shouting at each other. NPA guerrillas watching from afar were surprised that in spite of the call to cease ﬁre and after declaring themselves to be soldiers, the members of the other platoon continued to shoot,” the NPA island spokesperson stressed.
“The assaulting troops took the ﬁrearms and ammunition of the unit that had been pinned down and which they thought were NPA guerrillas,” Del Mar added.
“As this was going on, another platoon came and ﬁred on the second platoon, thus complicating the situation. While ﬁring continued, the NPA squad maneuvered and left the area. The masses later told guerrillas that military vehicles worked until dawn to transport the dead and the wounded,” she said.
“The 10 ﬁrearms taken might have come from the dead soldiers killed by the second platoon,” Del Mar surmised. “Instead of realizing their mistake, the soldiers even bragged to their superiors that they killed many NPA guerrillas, and their superiors believed them.”