At least 7 members of the New People’s Army were killed in a firefight with government troops Monday in Saranggani, Major Ezra Balagtey, public affairs chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) said Tuesday.
Five of the slain rebels were ranking members. He identified them only by aliases: Brigol, deputy secretary and political officer of Guerilla Front 71; JM, team leader and logistic officer; Jonas/Batot, team leader; Lieutenant, vice team leader; and Mark, medic.
The two other slain rebels were alias Monet, a new recruit, and another unidentified female.
The troops were led by 2Lt. Jerson Sanchez of the 73rd Infantry Battalion.
Sanchez’s group was on combat operation at around 3:30 p.m. pursuing a group of rebels after a brief encounter in the morning when the second firefight erupted that killed the rebels.
After the firefight, the soldiers recovered from the slain rebels 2 AK47 rifles, an M653, 6 M16 rifles, 4 improvised landmines, 2 riffle grenades, medical equipment and medicines, 5 ICOM radios, 30 backpacks, and subversive documents.
There was no casualty on the government side.
Eastmincom commander Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad said the clash was part of the continuing campaign of his command for “focused operations” against the NPA.
“We can destroy them anytime at will,” he said.
He said the Front 71 was converging for “another tactical offensive” when the military intelligence in the area got hold of their plan.
“Their plan to launch tactical offensive is part of their show of force in preparation for their anniversary next month. So, inunahan lang namin sila,” Baladad said.
On March 29, the NPA will be celebrating its 46th founding anniversary.