DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 04 February) — Three soldiers were killed while three others were hurt in a series of clashes between members of the 46th Infantry Battalion and the New Peoples Army (NPA) on Wednesday in Pantukan, Compostela Valley province, the military’s 10th Infantry Division said in a press release.
The first clash took place at around 1p.m. and lasted 30 minutes when a platoon of soldiers chanced upon around 60 NPA members at Sitio Sapang Tin-aw, Brgy. Tibagon, Pantukan in Comval, it said.
Army 1Lt. Ralph Pantonial and Pfc Eulezys Bantulo were killed while Pfc Jestoni Sabido and Cpl. Merlven Velunta were injured when the fleeing rebels reportedly detonated an improvised explosive device (IED),
The second gunfight which lasted for five minutes happened at around 6 p.m. at Sitio Biasong, Barangay Napnapan, Pantukan when around 10 NPAs allegedly fired at a platoon of soldiers from Bravo Company of the 46IB, killing Pf William Moreno.
The 10th ID press release said the rebels fled toward Purok 7 of the same sitio where they allegedly burned two houses.
In a telephone interview, Capt. Rhyan B. Batchar, chief of the Division Public Affairs Office of the 10th ID, said another incident took place at 8 p.m. He said a landmine exploded while the medical team entered the scene to attend to the wounded soldiers, injuring a certain Herbert Aquino.
In a statement, Col Alberto Macairog, commander of the 1001st Infantry Brigade, said the skirmishes “will not deter the peace initiatives of the 1001st Brigade and 46th Infantry Battalion and will continue their efforts to help bring basic services and development projects to the people.” (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)