2 killed in Zambo del Norte clash between military, NPA
PAGADIAN CITY – A soldier and a suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebel were killed during a brief clash in Sergio Osmeña town in Zamboanga del Norte on Saturday, the military said on Sunday.
Lt. Col. Marlowe Patria, the commander of the Army’s 53rd Infantry Battalion, said that soldiers led by 1Lt. Abner Pilando were conducting combat operation in Barangay San Isidro when they encountered the communist rebels.
He said the operation was conducted following reports that the rebels were harassing villagers in San Isidro.
Patria said that during the 15-minute firefight, Sgt. Rolly Barimbao was hit and killed. One rebel was also slain, he added.
The body of the slain rebel, who remained unidentified, was recovered together with an ammunition magazine for AK-47 assault rifle. It had been turned over to Sergio Osmeña officials while Barimbao’s remains had already been sent home.
“The NPAs carried their other comrades, who were wounded, as evidenced by the blood stains along enemy tracks,” Patria noted.
Patria also said that pursuit operations were continuing as of Sunday.
“We denounce in strongest terms the continued atrocities of NPAs, which killed one of our soldiers, and their (continued) atrocities against our hapless civilians,” Maj. Gen. Roseller Murillo, commander of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, said. “Our soldier died a hero while protecting our people and our communities.”
“The cooperation of the civilians, who reported the armed group’s presence in their area, is a strong manifestation that civilians have long been tired of the NPA’s activities such as extortion and harassment,” Murillo added.
Murillo vowed that the military would continue to pursue communist rebels. He, however, also said that they would welcome rebels who would give up arms and surrender. /kga