Military tightens security in Columbio town

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/25 January) —  Government forces have stepped up their security operations in Columbio in Sultan Kudarat following a series of attacks allegedly staged by communist rebels there since Friday, leaving a civilian wounded.

Inset map courtesy of Wikipedia.Lt. Col. Joel Alejandro Nacnac, commander of the 27th Infantry Battalion (IB), said Tuesday they deployed additional troops in several upland villages of Columbio to secure local communities and residents from further harassments by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels
reportedly led by a certain Kumander Joyjoy.

He said the rebels launched the attacks Friday night in Sitio New Ilocos of Poblacion Columbio, where a peace and development team of the 27th IB had been deployed.

On Saturday, Nacnac said the base of their peace and development team assigned in Sitio Mauno in Barangay Maligaya was attacked twice while two civilian communities in Sitio Bantangan in Barangay Lasak and Sitio Teruray, Barangay dela Paz also reported harassments by alleged
NPA snipers.

Nacnac said no one among their personnel was hurt during the attacks but several houses and farm animals owned by local residents were hit by gunfire supposedly coming from the side of the NPA.

He said a resident of Sitio Bantangan was injured while at least 10 families from the area have evacuated as as result of the NPA attacks.

“We’re really concerned with the situation there because the harassments happened in populated areas,” Nacnac said.

The Army official described the latest attacks launched by the NPA rebels as “desperate retaliatory acts” after supposedly losing the support of residents.

He said the communities attacked by the rebels were former NPA strongholds but “have turned their backs on them and instead embraced our peace and development initiatives.”

Nacnac said roops in the area are currently on full alert and have launched strategic pursuit operations against the rebels who staged the attacks.

Citing reports from their informants, he said the attackers were allegedly composed of three to four NPA snipers. Nacnac said that aside from Kumander JoyJoy, a unit led by local NPA leader Ramboy was also involved in the attacks.

The NPA has not issued a statement on the attacks. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)