MILF-Lost Command rebel slain in Comval clashes

The encounters involving elements from the Army’s 25th Infantry Battalion occurred in the towns of Mawab and Pantukan, police and military reports said.

Brig. Gen. Carlos Holganza, commander of the Army’s 1001st Infantry Brigade based in Tuburan, Mawab, said the Pantukan gunfight happened when about 30 fully armed men, said to be members of the MILF-LC under a certain Commander Venacio, clashed with government troops in the vicinity of sitio Binugsayan, Barangay Napnapan 6:30 a.m. on May 23.

He said soldiers were sent after receiving reports of armed men roaming in the area.

According to police reports, the Venacio group extorted money from small-scale miners and traders operating in the mining village.

Communist rebels are also present in the area, police said.

Fierce fighting broke out when soldiers and the gunmen met, and after sensing reinforcements and clearly overpowered, the gunmen retreated to unknown direction, reports said.

Holganza, in a text message, said no one was killed from the government side while one was slain from the MILF-LC.

Aside from personal belongings and a Koran, soldiers also recovered two M-16 Armalite rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, Holganza said.

Composite teams from the Army’s Rangers, intelligence group and police units from the provincial mobile group (1107th) have also reportedly been sent to pursue the fleeing suspects.

In Mawab town, a soldier was wounded when troops fought against New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in a 45-minute gunbattle on Monday.

Reports reaching Comval Police Provincial Office in Nabunturan town said about 30 to 50 armed NPAs encountered elements from the 25IB led by a certain Lt. Mararac in the vicinity of sitio Mahayag, Baragay Bawani.

The fighting began at around 9:15 a.m. when patrolling soldiers ran into the communist guerrillas.

Holganza said a trooper was slightly wounded while the rebels “may have suffered casualties.”

He also said a “section commander” and his 15-year-old son, a “child-warrior,” were captured by soldiers as a result of the encounter.

The two captured rebels are now said to be undergoing tactical interrogation by the military.

Reports said military and police operations against the rebels are ongoing as of press time.

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