NPA captured, firearms seized in clash with police in Agusan

BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews / 5 Feb) – Police troopers under the 13th Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB) captured a suspected New People’s Army (NPA) guerilla together with high-powered firearms and an improvised explosive device (IED) after a 15-minute firefight in Carmen town, Agusan del Norte Wednesday morning.

Senior Supt. Joseph Plaza, commander of the 13th RPSB, said a coordinated operation with the Army’s 402nd Infantry Brigade surprised the 25 to 30 rebels, triggering a firefight around 11:30 a.m. in Barangay Rojales.

Supt. Martin Gamba, spokesperson of the Caraga Regional Police Office 13, said the encounter happened after intelligence reports pointed out a movement of armed men in the area.

He identified the captured rebel as Allan Lauro, 27, a resident of Sitio Anahawan in Barangay Rojales, who was reportedly left behind and tried to hide. Gamba said they are filing a case against the suspect.

“Our men took a different route while the Army had the other side,” Plaza said, adding that the coordinated effort was key in catching the NPAs by surprise. “They had very little time to organize and react,” he added.

The RPSB reported that they recovered seven high-powered firearms, including AK-47 and M-16 assault rifles. Also recovered were an M203 grenade launcher, grenades, pistols, radio equipment, medical equipment and medicines, mobile phones and an IED.

The encounter happened while many high-ranking officials of the Army – including Maj. Gen. Oscar Lactao, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, was in the headquarters of the 402nd Infantry Brigade in Barangay Bancasi in Butuan City for the turnover ceremony of the new brigade commander.