Two soldiers killed in landmine blast in Cotabato

SOUTH COTABATO, Philippines – At least two government soldiers were killed while 13 others were wounded in a landmine attack staged by suspected leftist rebels on Sunday, February 22, in the southern Philippine province of South Cotabato.

Army Lt Col Ronald Jess Alcudia, commander of the 27th Infantry Battalion, said his men were heading towards the village of Datalbiao in Tampakan town around 1:45 pm to conduct clearing operations when the vehicle they were riding in hit a landmine along the highway in the village of Danlag. 

Alcudia said the incident killed two of his men and caused injuries to 13 others.

The wounded soldiers were immediately extracted and were brought to the nearest hospital for proper medical attention.

The troops were dispatched to the area over the weekend to chase members of the New People’s Army (NPA) that harrased a militia detachment on Saturday, February 21

The NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has been waging a guerrilla campaign in the countryside for 4 decades.  

Military estimates placed the NPA strength at more than 5,000 men scattered in more than 60 guerrilla fronts throughout the country.

Peace talks between the government and the rebels bogged down in 2004 after the United States included the NPA in its list of foreign terrorist organizations. – with a report by Jef Maitem/