Soldiers wounded in NPA encounter

SURIGAO CITY, Philippines – Five Army soldiers were wounded while undetermined number of rebels were also either killed or wounded when a fierce gun battle erupted Wednesday night between government forces and members of the communist-New People’s Army (NPA) in Sitio Subang Daan, Barangay Cantugas, Mainit, Surigao del Norte, police reported Friday.

Supt. Martin M. Gamba, regional spokesman of Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13), identified the wounded soldiers as Sgt. Dela A. Bano; Pfc. Steve G. Gapoy; Pvt. April June G. Añasco; Pvt. Ryan B. Corton; and Pvt. Michael D Gonzaga, all of 30th Infantry Battallion (30th IB). They were immediately brought to Surigao hospital for medical treatment.

Gamba said two sections of combat maneuvering troops of the 30th IB led by Lt. Ian Christopher Molina and certain Lt. Mendoza on board 2 KM250 and one KM450 vehicles while en route to their headquarters in Placer town of that same province from security patrol, stepped on an improvised explosive device attached to Surigao del Norte Electric Cooperative electrical post and exploded.

The incident happened at 9:45 in the evening.

After the explosion, a firefight immediately ensued between the elements of the 30th IB and armed group of guerrilla-Front Committee 16 of the CPP-NPA Northeastern Mindanao Regional Party Committee (NEMRPC), Gamba said.

“The firefight lasted for almost 15 minutes and we believed that undetermined number of rebels were either killed or wounded,” claimed Gamba, quoting an initial report from the field.

After the heavy firefight, the rebels who positioned along the hilly portion immediately withdraw to unknown direction.

Responding personnel from Mainit Municipal Police Station (MPS) recovered from the scene of encounter a pair black rubber boots; 8 fired cartridges of calibre 5.56; 6 pieces dry cell battery and assorted length of electrical wires. They are now in custody of Mainit MPS for proper disposition.

Hot pursuit operation is still going on as of this posting.

Earlier, in nearby province of Surigao del Sur, patrolling 3 sections of Army Scout Rangers captured an NPA encampment after a gunbattle in Barangay Lobo, Cantilan town, said Supt. Gamba.

The regional police spokesman said the encampment is composed of 12 bunkers and recovered were 1 unit Carbine rifle; IED detonators with detonating wires; 12 pieces dry cell battery; 1handheld motorola radio; and 3 cellular phones.

Before the capture of the said NPA camp, firefight also ensued and lasted for 20 minutes, until the rebels abandoned their camp and ran away towards west direction.

There was no casualty on the government side while an undetermined casualty on the enemy side, troops from Philippine Army are still conducting clearing operations in the area, added the PRO 13 spokesman. (Mike U. Crismundo)

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