NPA blocks road in San Franz

Insp. Jesus Aranco, police chief of Barobo in Surigao del Sur, said in a mobile phone interview that the suspected New People’s Army (NPA) started massing up their forces at noon and suddenly grabbed four buses to block the entrance and exit roads.

Aranco said a group of rebels positioned themselves in Barangay San Vicente in San Francisco town using two buses as their shield. He added other groups also blocked the road in Barangay Tambis in Barobo.

The Barobo police chief said around 80 rebels held passengers at an uphill road in Sitio Kotlog of Barangay Bahi but later released them after lecturing about the communist movement for almost an hour.

In his report, Chief Insp. Floriano Ravelo Jr., San Francisco police chief, said the rebels grabbed four buses and 50 jeepneys and ordered the passengers to disembark.

Ravelo said he was among those held by the rebels. He was not wearing his uniform at that time and was apparently not recognized by the rebels. He opted to stay inside the bus unharmed.

In a related incident, a jeepney exploded when it ran over a home-made landmine along the national highway in Tago, Surigao del Sur bout 7 a.m. today, wounding an undetermined number of passengers.

Sr. Supt. Alex Ga, Surigao del Sur police director, said the wounded passengers were immediately rushed to the Adela Siera Ty Memorial Hospital in the neighboring capital town of Tandag.

Ga believed the incident could be the handwork of the New People’s Army (NPA) to embarrass President Arroyo’s administration. (Alden C. Pantaleon / MindaNews)