In a statement mailed to reporters here, Ka Dencio Madrigal, commanding officer of the Valentin Palamine Command of the NPA, said the daring raid at 11:15 p.m. on January 29 was a "punitive" action against the town's police force who, he claimed, has "served as security force of Xstrata-SMI."
"Together with the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), the PNP (Philippine National Police) are being fed and mobilized by the company (SMI) to implement its policies and sow terror to the people to stifle protest against the operation of the company," Ka Dencio said in the statement written in Visayan.
The rebels also accused the local government units of Kiblawan in Davao del Sur, Tampakan in South Cotabato and Columbio in Sultan Kudarat of allegedly helping Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) "expand its operations and recruitment of paramilitary forces in their respective areas."
The rebels also vowed to launch more armed attacks against company "until SMI stops its mining operations."
At around 11:15 p.m. Thursday (January 29), some 50 heavily armed rebels stormed the town's police station and peppered it with gunfire and grenade rifles.
Policemen on duty, however, repelled the attackers although their headquarters was partially burned.
The rebels, who arrived at the town center on board two passenger jeeps, withdrew after the policemen put up resistance.
They were able to disarm a police officer manning the outpost at the gate of the police station.
An M16 rifle and a .45 cal pistol were taken from the lone sentry.
The NPAs also carted two base radios from the town's radio room, a laptop and other valuables.
AFP Chief of Staff General Alexander Yano branded the attack as another criminal activity of the NPA.
"(It was) consistent with the NPA terrorist tag. They are using ideological and political lines as convenient excuses for their criminal acts that are anti-people and anti-progress," Yano said in a text message.
The NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has been waging a guerilla war in the countryside for close to four decades.
On New Year's Eve last year, rebels belonging to the same group also attacked the main base camp of SMI in Barangay Tablu, also in Tampakan, and burned down the company's administration building. (Edwin G. Espejo/MindaNews contributor)