COTABATO CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – Suspected leftist rebels stormed the offices of the $5.9-billion Tampakan copper-gold project of Sagittarius Mining Inc (SMI) in Davao del Sur, leaving a company guard wounded, police said Monday, July 8.
An undetermined number of New People’s Army fighters opened fire on a police detachment as they raided the headquarters of SMI on Saturday morning, July 6, in the village of Kimlawis, Kiblawan town, said town police commander Senior Insp Arnold Bacaling.
Bacaling said the incident sparked a 30-minute gun fight. A security personnel of SMI, identified as Reydan Homocan, 32, was wounded.
The attackers later withdrew toward the mountains of Kimlawis.
“There’s a pursuit operation. We have alerted our men in the town,” he said.
SMI, however, denied that its facility was the primary target of the attack.
In an email to Rappler, SMI media relations manager John Arnaldo confirmed that “a shooting incident occurred within the vicinity of our camp,” but that it appeared to be connected to a dispute among locals.
Citing “initial police findings,” SMI said it “was not the primary target of the shooting and that the incident could be related to a community issue.”
The injured man, Arnaldo said, is an “off-duty security guard employed by SMI’s security contractor was injured and was treated in a hospital.”
The SMI spokesman said it is “incorrect” to suggest “that the incident was an attack by the New People’s Army against SMI.” Arnaldo said, “There is no suggestion that the NPA is involved.”
In 2009, the rebels also stormed the SMI’s base camp in Tampakan, South Cotabato.
The SMI is largely owned by Xstrata Copper, the world’s fourth largest copper producer. The 9,605-hectare Tampakan project is expected to produce an average annual yield of 375,000 metric tons of copper and 360,000 ounces of gold per year. – Rappler.com