CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/15 July) — Suspected New People’s rebels attacked the compound of a Manobo chieftain in Prosperidad town, Agusan del Sur Tuesday morning but his followers fought back killing 13 of the attackers, the military said.
Maj. Christian Uy, public information officer of the Army 4th Infantry Division said two Manobo fighters also died in the two-hour gun battle in Barangay Sta. Irene in Prosperidad.
Uy said the Manobo chieftain identified as Calpito Egua or Datu Calpit was wounded.
He said responding soldiers caught up with the retreating rebels killing one of them in Barangay Hamogaway, Bayugan City.
“The rebels left behind 13 bodies and these were tallied by body count. This is a major defeat for them,” he said.
The official said four M16 rifles including an M203 grenade launcher and four AK47 rifles were recovered from the slain rebels.
A photo circulating in Facebook showed residents milling around three bodies of rebels in the yard of the house of Datu Calpit, a kilometer from the Butuan-San Francisco National Highway.
Another photo showed a dead rebel lying under a truck loaded with logs at the garage of Datu Calpit.
Uy said Datu Calpit is a holder of a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title and runs a small-scale mining operation in the area.
“The NPA rebels tried to extort money from the chieftain but he refused to pay up. So they attacked him,” he said.
On-site information obtained by MindaNews revealed that the brother of Datu Calpit and three of his security personnel, two of whom were relatives, were also killed in the attack.
The attackers used a pick-up truck to ram the gate of Egua’s compound but left behind the vehicle during their retreat.
The rebels withdrew onboard another vehicle, although some fled on foot toward different directions, people who saw the incident said.
Some of the residents said the rebels probably sustained more casualties, as they were carrying along many of their comrades who suffered wounds when they retreated.
NPA offensives were observed to have increased recently. On July 10, NPA rebels attacked the police station of Alegria town in Surigao del Norte and carted away a number of firearms. Two rebels died in the attack.
The NPA also admitted having taken captive four police personnel who were intercepted by a rebel blocking force.
In a text message to MindaNews, Francis Paredes, a teacher at Alegria National High School in Alegria, Surigao del Norte said classes were cut short on Tuesday afternoon after they heard gunshots coming from barangay Mahayahay in neighboring Kitcharao town in Agusan del Norte.
Paredes said the students have been traumatized, referring to the effect of the attack on the police station in Alegria on July 10.
In a statement Tuesday, the NPA Comval North Davao South Agusan Sub-regional command said they staged two separate ambushes against the 25th Infantry Battalion on Monday evening in Laak, Compostela Valley.
The rebel group claimed that five soldiers died in the attack in Barangay Mabuhay, while the ambush in Barangay Andap destroyed a military vehicle.
Earlier, on July 2, rebels ambushed Mayor Mario Okinlay of Impasugong, Bukidnon on his way home from a visit to a remote barangay. (Froilan Gallardo, with reports from Erwin Mascarinas and Vanessa Almeda/MindaNews)