NPA rebels strafe SMI security vehicle

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/15 August)–Suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels fired on a vehicle providing security to controversial mining firm Sagittarius Mines, Inc. in Tampakan, South Cotabato on Friday afternoon, hours after two incidents also blamed on the rebel group (see related story).

Senior Insp. Sherwin Maglana, Tampakan police chief, said the service vehicle of Catena Security Inc., an affiliate of England-based Group Four Securicor or G4S, “one of the world’s leading security firms,” was strafed by suspected NPA rebels in Barangay Danlag.

No one was hurt in the incident that occurred at around 2 p.m., he added.

The vehicle, which was carrying “four to eight persons,” was hit in the rear portion, Maglana said.

Manolo Labor, SMI spokesperson, confirmed the incident early Friday evening.

“A vehicle ferrying personnel of Catena, our security contractor, was struck by a bullet,” he said.

No one was hurt and local authorities have conducted an investigation on the matter, Labor added.

Tampakan town hosts the largest known undeveloped copper-gold resources in Southeast Asia pursued by SMI, which is backed by foreign firms Xstrata Plc and Indophil Resources NL.

Communist rebels have repeatedly warned before to attack the company if it will not stop pursuing the mining project.

On New Year’s Day 2008, the NPA rebels stormed and burned the basecamp of SMI in the village of Tablu in Tampakan, damaging facilities and equipment worth at least P12 million.

Last May, the communist rebels also attacked and burned the base camp of SMI in Barangay Kimlawis in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur.

The mining project also straddles the provinces of Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)