2 soldiers killed in North Cotabato clash with NPA

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Two soldiers were killed in an ambush by suspected New People's Army (NPA) rebels in a village in Arakan town in North Cotabato.

Police Captain Jose Marie Molina, the Arakan chief of police, said the soldiers under the 19th Infantry Battalion  were conducting a community support program in Sitio Lucatong in Barangay Kinawayan and were on their way home to their headquarters when fired at around 4 pm on Wednesday, July 17.

Molina said the remains of the slain soldiers, whom he did not identify, had yet to be retrieved. He added that the police and the military had already deployed forces in the area to do this.

The incident came a day after the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) meeting led by North Cotabato Governor Nancy Catamco, where the province's communist insurgency problem was tackled.

During the PPOC meeting, Catamco pledged to focus on peace-related programs and effective delivery of services.

The governor said amid the NPA attacks in the past months, she would pursue a diplomatic approach in conflict resolution, adding that the "use of force must be the last option." – Rappler.com