The attack reportedly occurred 5:30 a.m. today at Barangay Illustre.
But Maj. Raymundo D. Aguada, spokesman of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said in a statement that only three government troopers were wounded. He said, too, that the NPA suffered an undetermined number of casualties and injuries as they spotted “bloodstains on the withdrawal route” of the rebels.
Aguada accused the NPA of violating International Humanitarian Law for using landmines in the attack.
He said that the 1002nd Infantry Brigade has already launched large scale military operations to run after the perpetrators. “There will be no let-up in the operations until such time that the area will be cleared from enemy presence and influence,” he vowed.
Reports gathered by MindaNews from Maj. Lyndon Paniza, the newly installed commander of the 39th Infantry Battalion, identified the fatalities only by their surnames — Dalamban, Balibaguso and Cabañero, of the Charlie Company.
The company commander, a certain Lt. Nemesis, was also among those wounded and was rushed to the nearby Arakan Valley District Hospital, Paniza said. Aguada’s statement, however, said the company commander is 1Lt. Harold A. Ho, and mentioned nothing about Ho being injured.
Hospital staff said that they had to give Nemesis a tranquilizer because he was yelling at the doctors and nurses, saying he wanted to go back to the field to save his men.
Nemesis was later transferred to the Kidapawan Medical Specialist Hospital along with the 19 other wounded soldiers. Two were reportedly in serious condition, said Fe Mendoza, liaison officer of the Arakan Valley District Hospital who assisted in transferring the soldiers to the hospital in this city.
Some of the wounded were identified as Romeo Mayormita, 37; Eugenio Alido, 34; Sapulon Maguierma, 40; Panto Bala, 32; Gilbert Palma, 29; Abdul Kadir, 39; Felicito Malaya, 32; Arnold Capilitan, 37; Philip Pulla, 20; Zainudin Adio; Mario Castillon; and Mike Abang. Some more were identified only with their family names — Jabibalo, Becena, Guaban, and Recia.
Paniza said the troops were on their way to Barangay Ilustre, in the boundary of Arakan and Antipas towns, when attacked by at least 50 NPA rebels. Ilustre is known to be highly influenced by the NPA. (MindaNews)