NPA rebels attack 3 mining firms in Surigao Norte

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/03 October) — Suspected communist rebels attacked three mining companies in Surigao del Norte on Monday killing four security guards and damaging a number of heavy equipment, the military said.

Maj. Eugenio Julio Osias, public information officer of the 4th Infantry Division said the New People’s Army rebels also abducted the manager of Taganito Mining Corporation identified as Jose Anievas , and its security officer, retired Army colonel Rene Perenal.

Osias said the firm’s officials were herded into a van and taken to another site where the rebels burned several dump trucks.

He said at the time of the attack the firm had several guests, Japanese investors who came to see their operations.

He added there was no immediate information as to what had happened to the Japanese businessmen.

The office of Taganito Mining Corporation in Claver town, Surigao del Norte in this file photo taken on Feb. 14, 2009. Communist rebels attacked the firm and two other mining corporations on Monday, October 3, 2011, killing four guards. Two company officials were also abducted. The rebels also set fire several heavy mining equipments. Taganito Mining Corporation is a major mining firm in the country. MindaNews file photo by Carolyn ArguillasAround 200 rebels from the NPA’s guerrilla front 16 led by a certain Artem or Doming staged the attack, the military official said.

“Magulong-magulo. The rebels wearing army uniforms conducted checkpoints leading to Claver town. This created confusion among responding soldiers and policemen,” Osias said.

He said the rebels manning a checkpoint ambushed a convoy of soldiers responding to the attack today.

Reports from the police office in Surigao del Norte said the rebels used dump trucks and other heavy equipment to block reinforcements in Sitio Baoy, Barangay San Isidro in Gigaguit town and Barangay Lagdaon in Claver town, all in Surigao del Norte.

Osias said that aside from torching heavy equipment, the rebels seized thirty-two 9mm pistols from the Taganito Mining Corporation.

He said three groups of rebels simultaneously attacked the three mining firms located adjacent to each other in Claver, around 9a.m.

The first group of rebels went to Taganito Mining Corporation in Barangay Taganito killing four guards who offered resistance. They later burned the firm’s guesthouse and seized the 9mm pistols from the guards.

During the three-hour attack, the rebels also barged into the office of the Platinum Group Mining Corporation in Barangay Cadiano and burned company equipment.

At around 12:30 pm, another group of rebels proceeded to TH PAL Mining Corporation.

Osias said the rebels burned two barges, ten Volvo dump trucks and eight Volvo backhoes.

He said reinforcements were sent to the area tonight and more will be deployed tomorrow (Tuesday) to track down the rebels.

In a statement issued at 9:48pm Monday, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said government was taking the attack seriously and was monitoring the situation in Claver.

“The situation in the area has been contained and we are now exerting efforts to ensure that those responsible for these attacks are brought to justice,” Ochoa said.

“At present, all foreign nationals working at the sites have been accounted for and are unharmed, while local employees are now out of harm’s way,” he added.

The statement downplayed the incident as “an isolated case” and assured the business community and the public that government “is on top of the situation”. (Froilan Gallardo with a report from H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)