By Mike Crismundo
CAMP BANCASI, Butuan City – Two communist terrorists were killed and an undetermined number of other New People’s Army (NPA) terrorists were believed wounded when a fierce gun battle erupted Tuesday afternoon between government security forces and NPAs, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), Capt. Rodulfo S. Cordero, Jr., spokesperson and Civil Military Operations (CMO) officer of the Army’s 401st Infantry (Unity) Brigade told The Manila Bulletin on Wednesday.
He said combat maneuvering troops of the Army’s 75th Infantry Battallion (75th IB) were still pursuing the NPA terrorists, believed to be members of the CPP-NPA Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee.
The heavy gun battle erupted at 1:30 in the afternoon on Tuesday in the hinterlands of Barangay Buhisan, San Agustin, Surigao del Sur, the 401st Brigade spokesperson said.
The gunfight lasted for about an hour after which the NPA terrorists withdrew to different directions within the Diwata range leaving behind their dead comrade-in-arm.
“Our operating troops found the bodies and their firearms, an AK47 rifle, an M653 rifle, a compass, bomb materials including blasting caps and detonating cords used to detonate landmine from the encounter site, Capt. Cordero said.
“Our operating troops believed that undetermined numbers of other NPAs were wounded as bloodstains were seen in the encounter site with no reported casualty on the government side,” he said.
Before the gun battle took place, elements of 75th IB were conducting security operations in the hinterlands of Lianga and San Agustin, all of Surigao del Sur province, to pursue the NPA terrorists who were allegedly responsible in the killing of two lumads and a soldier with the use of landmines in Purok 5, San Isidro, Lianga, Surigao del Sur, last November 6, 2017.
The encounter site is about 7 kilometers away from the lumad communities in Barangay Diatagon, Lianga and Buhisan, San Agustin, where residents were allegedly forced by the ALCADEV and TRIFPSS organizers to consolidate in their school in Sitio Simowaw of Barangay Diatagon, Capt. Cordero added.
Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) and Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao Sur (TRIFPPS) are highland tribes school learning for literature and arithmetic but considered as illegal schools for not being recognized by school authorities, claimed further the 401st Brigade spokesperson.
Meanwhile, Col. Andres Centino, commanding officer of the 401st Brigade on Wednesday assured the residents in the municipalities of Lianga and San Agustin, both in Surigao del Sur, that despite the encounter, there was no reason for the residents to evacuate since the area of operations is distant from their communities and intended to pursue the fleeing terrorist NPAs.
“I also assured the local leaders that the government soldiers are trained, disciplined and have sworn to respect the rights of the people and protect their communities,” the 401st Brigade commander said, in a statement.
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