BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/18 May)– A soldier and two alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) were killed in a series of clashes in the hinterlands of Claver in Surigao del Norte, an official said.
1Lt Joe Patrick Martinez, head of the civil military office of the 42nd Infantry Battalion (IB), said the soldier from the 30th IB, whom he did not identify, was killed Thursday.
Elements of the 30th IB encountered around 15 NPA members in Pamyunon, Barangay Sapa in Claver town, he said.
At around 1:30 p.m. Friday, Martinez said that troops from the 42nd Division Reconnaissance Company caught up with the fleeing rebels in Barangay Cabugo, resulting in a 30-minute exchange of gunfire.
He said that two NPA rebels were killed in the encounter, with several more believed wounded.
Martinez claimed that soldiers saw the retreating NPA rebels carry their wounded comrades, “leaving behind trails of blood.”
Troops recovered from the scene of the encounter an M-16 and AK-47 automatic rifles, he said.
The rebels supposedly belong to the NPA Guerilla Front 16 of the North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee, according to Martinez.
Insp Renato Acelo, Claver municipal police chief, confirmed in a phone interview that soldiers killed two NPA rebels during the encounter.
“We’ve brought the body of the two slain NPAs to a funeral home in the neighboring town of Bacuag since we don’t have any funeral facility in Claver,” he said.
The fingerprints of the fatalities were taken to help in identifying them, Acelo said.
Acelo said they beefed up security by placing checkpoints in strategic locations of the town.
The municipal police chief said the encounter site “has been a regular staging area for NPA activity.”
He added the area is mountainous and about 10 kilometers away from the center of the town. (Erwin Mascarinas/MindaNews)