GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – A soldier was killed while 5 others were wounded when an army patrol team was hit by a landmine while pursuing communist rebels in Malapatan town in Sarangani.
The total number of injured soldiers later increased to 14 following an accident encountered by the team sent as reinforcement.
Lieutenant Colonel Ronnie Babac, commanding officer of the 73rd Infantry Battalion, said the explosion took place Friday afternoon, November 6, and was followed by an encounter.
He said the army patrol team was pursuing rebels who harassed army engineers in Malapatan.
On November 1, communist rebels fired at army engineers constructing a school building in Barangay Upper Suyan in Malapatan. No one was injured in the incident.
Babac said they received reports from residents of Upper Suyan that the rebels had planted landmines in the village. He ordered his men to investigate the incident.
The patrolling soldiers were reportedly closing in on a huge rebel encampment in Sitio Lamsalo in Upper Suyan when they were hit by the landmine.
On Saturday morning, November 7, a helicopter was sent to retrieve and reinforce the beleaguered soldiers but it crashed, injuring its crew and passengers and bringing to 14 the total of soldiers injured over the last two days. (READ: PAF chopper crash lands in Sarangani due to strong winds)
“A Huey helicopter crashed due to strong wind while landing to insert fresh troops and evacuate casualties,” said Colonel Ronald Villanueva, commanding officer of the 1002nd Brigade based in Malungon, Sarangani.
Villanueva said two pilots, two crew members, and 5 soldiers were injured in the crash.
The injured soldiers, including those wounded in the landmine explosion, were later brought to the hospital in nearby General Santos.
After suffering a succession of setbacks, communist rebels have shown increased activity in Sarangani.
Last month, the New People’s Army attacked a detachment manned by government militiamen in Malita, Davao del Sur.
A woman who was at the detachment was killed while a government soldier was wounded. – Rappler.com
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