Soldier, 3 NPAs killed in N. Cotabato clashes

Mindanao Armed Conflict  • Tue Apr 11, 2017 06:55 PM  •  226   0
By John Unson
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NORTH COTABATO (Apr11) --- A soldier and three New People’s Army (NPA) guerillas were killed in a series of firefights Monday in Barangay Balite in Magpet town in North Cotabato, authorities said Tuesday.

The Army’s 39th Infantry Battalion, which has jurisdiction over Magpet and nearby towns in the province, confirmed via an online statement the death of an enlisted soldier, whose identity was withheld pending notification of relatives.

Two other soldiers were wounded in the skirmishes, now confined in a hospital.

Local officials, among them members of the Magpet municipal peace and order council, said on Tuesday that three NPAs were killed in the encounter.

The group, led by Joel Pulido, belongs to the NPA’s notorious Guerilla Front 53, feared for its brutality on civilians suspected of helping the military monitor its activities.

Army officials said guerillas under the group are also known for their excessive collection of “protection money” from hapless peasant communities to raise funds needed to sustain its operation.

The hostilities on Monday forced about a hundred families in Barangay Balite to evacuate to Katindu and Anuling areas in Arakan, North Cotabato.

Senior Supt. Emmanuel Peralta, director of the North Cotabato provincial police, said the running gunbattles in Barangay Balite on Monday erupted when the NPAs attacked soldiers pursuing retreating rebels who raided Barangay Mahongcog, Magpet the day before.

The rebels, who arrived in Barangay Mahongcog on three vehicles, disarmed volunteer community watchmen and barangay officials at gunpoint.

Mahongcog Barangay Chairman Michael Lingaro and his subordinate-tanods lost more than a dozen firearms, including M14 and M-16 assault rifles and gauge 12 shotguns to the rebels.

Magpet is surrounded by hinterlands where there is heavy NPA presence.

The rebels who fired at soldiers in Barangay Balite retreated to a nearby hinterland when they got low on ammunition, according to local police probers.
Evacuees have confirmed that three NPAs were killed in the incident.
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