NPA claims 2 soldiers killed, one injured in Sta. Cruz ambush; Army says one killed, 3 injured

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/26 April) – An “oversized squad” of the NPA’s Magtanggol Roque Command-Front 51 Operations Command in Southern Mindanao ambushed the 16-man section of the Cafgu/39th Infantry Battalion of the 10th Infantry Division of the Eastern Mindanao Command at around 6 a.m. in Patulangon, Sta. Cruz, on  Sunday, April 25, a press statement from the NPA in Southern Mindanao said.

The press statement, signed by Simon Santiago, political director of the Regional Political Department, said the firefight “lasted for almost two hours and resulted to two dead and one wounded on the enemy side.  The NPA suffered no casualty and seized one M14 rifle.”

“This latest blow against the 39th IB-AFP is a slap on the face of the 10th ID-Eastern Mindanao Command which recently declared Sta. Cruz town as ‘NPA-free’ area,” the press statement said.

A press statement from the EastMinCom said only one Cafgu member was killed in a 20-minute, not two-hour as claimed by the NPA, firefight. The press statement released by Capt. Emmanuel Garcia, chief of the Public Affairs Office of the 10th Infantry Division, identified the victim as Danilo Tongon. Three others were wounded, the statement read. Their names were not made available.

EastMinCom said the rebels were “reportedly on extortion mission and who are actively campaigning in the village of Coronon in Sta Cruz town in Davao del Sur 6:30 AM Sunday.”

The report did not indicate who the group was campaigning for.

EastMinCom said the NPA guerrillas “were reportedly waiting for some money to be delivered by some henchmen of a local politician as part of their extortion scheme guised as Permit to Campaign Fee when a tip-off happened and a squad of Cafgu immediately responded. Information from residents also indicates that armed NPAs are campaigning in the locality.” (MindaNews)