Reds storm mining firm in Agusan Norte

TUBAY, Agusan del Norte (MindaNews/5 April)–Suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels raided at around 1 a.m. Saturday a mining firm here, burning four dump trucks, destroying machineries and seizing the firearms of security guards, the military said.

A report from the 402nd Infantry Brigade said the heavily armed men over-powered the guards of Philalstron Mining Corp., which is located in Purok 4, Barangay Tagmamarkay.

Aside from the burned dump trucks, 1Lt Joe Patrick Martinez, 402nd civil military officer, said the suspects also put on fire a motorcycle and a laboratory facility of the mining firm.

They also destroyed two bulldozers by strafing them and took away three shotguns, seven assorted handguns, a handheld global positioning system, a camera, two laptops and four Motorola handheld radios, he added.

Martinez said the suspected communist guerrillas were armed with AK-47 rifles, among other firearms, based on the empty shells recovered from the scene.

Supt. Martin Gamba, spokesperson of the Police Regional Office 13 (PRO-13), said that “a large number of suspected rebels” surrounded the mining camp.

Initial investigation by responding elements from the Regional Public Safety Battalion showed that around 100 fully armed men held the mining area and its guards, he said.

“We believe that the group was led by a certain Dodi of Guerilla Front 21,” Gamba said.

One of the mining personnel, who requested not to be named, said the suspected rebels were able to move undetected under the cover of darkness.

“We never noticed them because it was very dark. They over-powered our guards and even tied some of them. We were all so afraid but we were relieved that they did not harm anyone,” he said.

“They just opened fire on the machineries and burned the dump trucks and managed to take several of the firearms,” he added.

Philalstron Mining declined to answer any question and did not even allow the media to enter their compound.

A Chinese national identified only as Mr. Lim owns the mining firm, records of the PRO-13 said.

No further details were provided. (Erwin Mascarinas/MindaNews)