11 killed in NPA attacks in Davao del Sur
DAVAO CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – A total of 11 people – including 7 soldiers and 2 policemen – were killed in separate clashes with communist rebels in Matanao, Davao del Sur on Monday, March 10.
Captain William Rodriguez, spokesman of the military's 1002nd Brigade, said the soldiers were bound for the Matanao police station to provide reinforcement and to pursue the rebels that had attacked the station at dawn, when their truck ran into an NPA blocking unit in Barangay Asbang.
The NPA detonated a landline in the vehicle's path, killing 7 soldiers, including the unit's leader, and wounding 8 others.
The pursuit operation came after the rebels attacked the town's police headquarters at 4:30 am and a military detachment in Barangay Donganpekong 30 minutes later.
Earlier, 2 policemen were killed and 3 others wounded when over 50 communist rebels tried to raid the Matanao police station.
Rodriguez said the rebels – who arrived in a jeepney, a forward truck and an Elf-type truck wearing camouflage uniforms – were kept from entering the police station.
"The PNP personnel were able to open fire preempting the entry of the attacking NPA," Rodriguez said, adding that the rebels withdrew after failing to overrun the police station.
He said members of the 39th Infrantry Battalion have nabbed 9 alleged communist rebels who were part of the group that attacked the police station.
"Presently, the PNP is still conducting an investigation against the 9 arrested rebels. Appropriate charges will be filed against them," Rodriguez said.
The rebels were reportedly led by Felix Armodia (Ka Jing), who the military identified as secretary of Front 72 of the rebels’ Far South Mindanao Regional command.
Rodriguez added that 2 communist rebels were killed in pursuit operations in Barangay Saboy, also in Matanao. This brings to 11 the total number of casualties in clashes between the NPA and government troops that day.
Suspected NPA leader killed
Military officials also said that on Friday, March 7, a suspected NPA platoon leader died while being evacuated in a military ambulance after sustaining injuries in a series of gun battles with government troops in Compostela Valley.
The military's 10th Infantry Division said Eleazar "Dads" Romero sustained multiple gunshot wounds in an encounter in Sitio Tagmailan, New Sibunga in Nabunturan town around noon, where two soldiers were hurt.
"Romero is an NPA member for eight years and holds the position of platoon leader of the group's 'sandatahang unit pampropaganda' (armed propaganda unit) platoon," the military said.
Romero and the wounded soldiers could not be evacuated using a helicopter and were moved by foot to the nearest road to be transferred to an ambulance.
Romero was pronounced dead on arrival at the Camp Panacan Station Hospital, the military said.
The attacks came days after the NPA apologized to civilian victims of a land mine that it said "accidentally" hit a civilian ambulance when it attacked a convoy of emergency responders en route to evacuate soldiers wounded in an encounter in Davao del Sur.
The Commission on Human Rights and the Armed Forces have denounced the landmine attack which hurt 5 civilians and 11 soldiers.
Peace talks between the government and the communist movement broke down last year. – with reports from Edwin Espejo/Rappler.com