5 soldiers killed in Ilocos Sur ambush

5 soldiers killed in Ilocos Sur ambush
(UPDATED) It's a surprise attack in an area not known to be a rebel stronghold

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Alleged communist rebels killed 5 Army soldiers and wounded 5 others in an ambush in Quirino, Ilocos Sur, police said.

In a report, the regional police office of Region 1 said suspected communist guerrillas ambushed a convoy of the Army’s 81st infantry battalion in Barangay Namitpit, Quirino, Ilocos Sur, at 8 pm Thursday, February 25.

The military said in a statement that the troops  were conducting joint law enforcement operations together with Regional Public Safety Battalion when they were waylaid by at least 15 NPA rebels while on their way home.

Lt Col Jason Bajet, commander of the 81IB, said that the operating troops were in military trucks at the time of the ambush.

The guerrillas took positions near civilian houses by the roadside, the military said.

“The NPA bandits used the civilians as human shields in that particular encounter. My troops tried their best to avoid civilian casualties by controlling their fires,” said Bajet in a statement.

Bajet said they were able to call for reinforcements and ambulances by 10 pm but these were fired upon by the rebels, forcing the drivers to turn back towards a safer location.

The bodies of the casualties were retrieved early Friday morning.

Ilocos Sur is not a known bailiwick of the communist New People’s Army, however. But the town of Quirino is near Mountain Province, where the NPA controls a base. – Rappler.com

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