Rebels disarm Army intelligence unit; officer missing

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/03 December) – An Army officer was reported missing after a six-man intelligence unit was intercepted and disarmed by alleged New People’s Army (NPA) rebels this morning in Sitio Mahayahay, Barangay Guinoman in Diplahan town, Zamboanga Sibugay.

102nd Infantry Brigade commander Col. Gerardo Barrientos said the unit was bound for Sitio Balabag, Barangay Depore in Bayog town, Zamboanga del Sur to verify reports of rampant extortion activities by the rebel group.

Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom), meanwhile said the soldiers were on an intelligence mission to Bayog when around 40 rebels intercepted them in Mahayahay.

Cabangbang said the unit, composed of two officers and two enlisted personnel from the 102nd Infantry Brigade, a militiaman and a retired soldier, was disarmed and interrogated.

He said one of the two officers, who managed to escape and was chased by the rebels, was still missing.

Cabangbang did not name the missing officer but Barrientos identified him as Major Ramon Torres, intelligence officer of the brigade.

Cabangbang said some of the rebels wore military uniforms, and the others were in “media outfit.”

Before fleeing, the rebels burned the Mitsubishi Strada pickup used by the soldiers.

The vehicle was reportedly owned by the TVI Resources Development (TVIRD), a mining firm operating in Bayog. (MindaNews)