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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

AFP captures NPA camp but loses 3 soldiers in Caraga clashes

(TIGHT WATCH – Standing guard at the lake town of Jabonga in Agusan del Norte, this policeman is on the alert after the government’s series of encounters in the Caraga region)

by Mike Crismundo
Publish in

Sibagat, Agusan del Sur – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) captured a major New People’s Army (NPA) encampment here but lost three soldiers in other encounters with the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines in the Caraga region recently.

According to regional spokesman Maj. Christian C. Uy, the Army’s Northeastern and Northern Mindanao 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division (4th ID) swooped down unopposed and captured the NPA camp located at New Tubigon area in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur.
Uy said the camp could easily accommodate 100 persons, complete with make shift huts, kitchens, running trenches, listening posts and training ground.
“The occupants hastily fled to a nearby forested mountain before our operating troops arrived,” claimed Uy.
The combat troops recovered war materials including M16 Armalite rifle with M203 attached, improvised explosive devices IED’s), rifle grenades assorted hand guns, blasting caps and voluminous subversive documents with high intelligence value at the NPA camp.
But the military suffered a setback in Surigao del Norte, after two soldiers were killed while another was injured in a running gun-battle with the communist rebels in Little Baguio, Barangay Payapag in the town of Bacuag.
Another trooper was slain in a firefight in  Bunawan, Agusan del Sur.
According to Uy, the first casualty in the Surigao del Norte skirmish was Pfc Jay Ar G. Escaret after a 30-minute exchange with the NPA in the morning.
Then, at around 4 p.m., a second barrage of gunfire between the two sides left Pfc Webster Branzuela dead in Little Baguio.
In another fierce encounter last Sunday in Sitio Maghilot, Barangay Consuelo in Bunawan town, Tsgt Leonardo G. Pilare Jr. of the Alpha Company of the 75th Infantry Battalion (IB), 6th ID was killed after a 35-minute firefight with guerillas belonging to Front Committee 14 of the CPP-NPA Northeastern Mindanao Regional Party Committee.
“A few days before that series of gunbattles, the 30th IB already received information regarding the presence of at least 30 heavily armed NPA’s in the area,” claimed Uy quoting a flash report from the field, adding: “They were allegedly extorting money and food from the villagers that prompted the field troops to respond”
And in the aftermath of all these skirmishes, Uy said Army troopers are now hot on-the-heels of fleeing rebels.
Uy added that the NPA side may have also sustained heavy casualty in these battles as could be seen from the long trail of blood that pursuing troops found along their routes of withdrawal.
“Our pursuing troops led by Lt. Col. Arsenio Sadural, commanding officer of the 30th Infantry Battallion are tracking down without let up the rebels’ escape route,” Uy told Manila Bulletin.
“Despite the incidents, our troops will continue to pursue a peaceful initiative in order for development to come in Mindanao. Even if the life of every soldier is at stake, we (in the Army) aim to accomplish this mandate and be pro-active in support of peace and development in the area,” said Lt. Col. Norman L. Alcovindas.

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