3 killed in Army, NPA clash in Bukidnon

The military reported another soldier and two other rebels were wounded, and two more rebels captured in the three-hour gun battle.

The encounter occurred 12 days after suspected NPA rebels also attacked Malaybalay's city jail.

Lt. Col Benedict Arevalo, 29IB commanding officer, said they clashed with 30 to 40 NPAs in Sitio Katipunan, Barangay Tugaya, this city on January 30. 

"They are moving to amass fire power," Arevalo told MindaNews at the sidelines of visits of Bukidnon Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri in at least three barangays here. 

The Army claimed that around 6 a.m. they came across an encampment that looked like abandoned. By 8:30 a.m. as they were perusing the camp, armed men reportedly fired at the soldiers.

Arevalo told MindaNews Monday the move is part of a growing trend of arm-grabbing attacks of the rebel group in Mindanao. But he said it is also a possibility that they are staging to free a detained comrade. 

Arevalo said the rebels belong to the NPA's Front Committee 6 in North Central Mindanao Regional Committee.

Killed was Pvt. Nur Ammad Lakibol, while Pvt. Allan Jay was wounded, according to a report from the Army's 403rd Infantry Brigade in Malaybalay City. 

One of the captured rebels was identified as Poping Pagtalunan Timbayong aka "Mar". The other is reportedly a 16-year-old combatant.

The Army said they recovered two M14 rifles, a caliber .30 Garand rifle, a Carbine rifle, two claymore mines and wiring, a hand grenade, a telescope and so-called “subversive documents.”

The rebels had camped in the area for at least two weeks already, Arevalo said, adding they were preparing to attack either the city jail or the police station in Valencia City. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)