2 soldiers hurt in clash with NPA in Cotabato town

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 23 March) – Two soldiers were wounded in a clash with a still undetermined number of New People’s Army rebels in the hinterlands of Magpet, North Cotabato Thursday, the military said.

Capt. Randy Llunar, civil military operations (CMO) officer of the Army’s 901st Infantry Brigade, said wounded soldiers from the 19th Infantry Battalion were airlifted to Davao City for treatment.

One of the soldiers was hit on his head and the other sustained injuries on his arm, Llunar said.

Llunar said the troops rushed to Magpet after they confirmed reports that guerillas were sighted in Barangay Manobo.

“This was part of our focused military operations… to secure our residents in the area. So we’re here to provide the people peace and security,” said the military officer.

Llunar said he has yet to determine the leader of the NPA that clashed with his men along the boundary of Barangays Bangkal and Manobo.

The encounter, which started 1030 a.m. on Thursday, lasted for two hours, the military official said.

The area, according to the military’s intelligence reports, is under the NPA Front 53 whose leaders include a certain Commander Joel.

The 19IB, although new to the terrain, climbed as far as Barangay Manobo to verify the reported sightings, Llunar explained.

“While on their way to the area, they were fired upon by the NPAs. Our troops, however, were ready to fire back which led the rebels to withdraw to the mountains,” he said, claiming that his men saw bloodstains which may indicate that some of the rebels may have been wounded in the clash.

The 901IB, originally from Luzon, is the latest addition to the military troops operating in North Cotabato, deployed earlier this month. It covers Kidapawan City and the towns of Antipas, Arakan, President Roxas, and Magpet.

Also operating in the province are the 602nd Infantry Brigade, which is based in Carmen; and the 1002nd Infantry Brigade, whose area of operations includes the town of Makilala. (Malu Cadelina Manar / MindaNews)