GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/08 August) — An alleged team leader of the New People’s Army (NPA) was killed following an encounter with government troops on Tuesday morning in a hinterland village in Columbio town in Sultan Kudarat.
Lt. Col. Alexis Noel Bravo, commander of the 27th Infantry Battalion, said Wednesday the encounter ensued after their troops chanced upon the rebels at a portion of Sitio Tiruray, Barangay Tilapas in Columbio.
He said they increased their deployment in Columbio town late Monday after local residents reported the presence of a group of NPA rebels led by Ronnie Nayre alias Kumander Joyjoy.
The group is reportedly under the Southern Alip Regional Guerilla Unit (SARGU) of the NPA’s Far South Mindanao Revolutionary Committee, he said.
Nayre’s group was supposedly behind the attack on an Army detachment in Barangay Bacungan, Magsaysay town in Davao del Sur last April.
“We’ve been monitoring the movements of this group in the past several months. They’re quite elusive and we’re lucky to track them down this time,” Bravo said.
The Army official identified the slain NPA rebel as a certain alias Joe, who is reportedly a team leader of SARGU’s squad 2 and a resident of Tulunan, North Cotabato.
Bravo said they recovered a tent, several personal items, subversive documents and five firearms – two M16 and three M14 rifles – that were supposedly left behind by the rebels.
Citing accounts by local informants, he said the rebels came to the area on Monday to supposedly gather some supplies.
He said the rebels might have taken advantage of the town’s foundation anniversary celebration that day.
“They don’t have any ongoing recruitment in Columbio right now. But they’re using the area as their re-supply point,” Bravo said.
The official added that their clearing operations are currently ongoing and the unit has assigned a team to track down the other members of Nayre’s group.