5 dead in clashes as NPA rebels mark 43rd anniversary

MANILA, Philippines—Three New People’s Army rebels and two government soldiers were killed in three separate clashes as the communist guerrillas marked Friday their 43rd anniversary, the military said.

In Davao City, an Army private died after a paramilitary patrol base was peppered with bullets by three NPA rebels around  6 a.m. in Paradise Embac village, Paquibato District, spokesman Colonel  Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr. told reporters in a press briefing.

The fatality was identified as Private First Class Eriel Garalde, who was declared dead on arrival after sustaining bullet wounds to his left chest.

The gunbattle lasted for about five minutes, Burgos said, adding the rebels fled towards northern and eastern directions.

In North Cotabato, an Army private and three rebels were also killed in a five-minute firefight in Magpet town at about 11:45a.m. The soldier was identified as Private First Class Jaylord Albania.

Troops from the 57th Infantry Battalion were conducting a security patrol in Bagumbayan village when it encountered an undetermined number of rebels led by a certain Totoy Dako, he said.

The encounter lasted for about an hour.

Meanwhile, three security forces were wounded following an encounter with about 15 NPA guerrillas who were armed with AK 47s and M 16 rifles in Tambis village, Barobo  town  in  Surigao del Sur.

Burgos said  two  of the injured were  Privates  First  Class  and  the other was  a  Police  Officer 1. Their names were withheld until their kin were notified.

In 2011, there were two NPA-related armed incidents reported during the NPA anniversary. The encounters took place in Compostela Valley and Negros Occidental.  It left a 14-year-old civilian dead.

But Burgos said the military was “not so concerned with date of NPA anniversary.”

“What we’re after is the long term the statistics not just one day,” he said.

He also said there were “much less” NPA-related incidents compared to this month last year.

In 2011, there were 43 NPA-related armed violence—29 guerrilla operations, 14 terrorist activities—reported ahead of the NPA anniversary.

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