8 killed in Army-NPA clash in Bukidnon on Valentine’s

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 15 Feb) – There is no love between government soldiers and New People’s Army rebels on Valentine’s Day as eight of them were killed in a series of encounters following an attack on an Army detachment in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon.

The NPA in Northern Mindanao said in a communiqué that around 50 of their fighters raided the detachment of the Army’s 1st Special Forces Battalion in Sitio Green Valley, Barangay Dalwangan in Bukidnon 9 p.m. Thursday.

“The raid was successful. The fighters were able to overwhelm the defenders in just five minutes,” said Ka Emil of NPA-Northern Mindanao.

He claimed four soldiers were killed in the attack and their fighters were able to capture six firearms, including M4 rifles and ammunition.

But Col. Edgardo de Leon, commander of the Army’s 403rd Infantry Brigade, denied the NPA claim, saying it was the rebels who paid the higher price.

De Leon, citing intelligence and civilian reports, said the soldiers fought back the raiders, killing four rebels.

“Our soldiers fought back ferociously and it was the rebels who paid the price,” he said.

De Leon said only two soldiers, not four as claimed by the NPA, were killed in the attack.

He said they are currently doing an inventory to check the veracity of the NPA claim that its fighters were able to seize six firearms.

Meanwhile, in Agusan del Norte, the Army said the NPA rebels released on Valentine’s Day 6 of the 14 soldiers and CAFGUs they captured last December.

Capt. Regie Go, public information officer of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said the release took place in Barangay San Juan, Bayugan City in Agusan del Norte 6 p.m. Thursday.

Go said Army units are still pursuing the rebels who are still holding the remaining eight soldiers and CAFGU hostages. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)