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13 killed in NPA clashes in Surigao

June 30, 2008 - At least four government troops and nine New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were killed in a spate of encounters in different parts of Surigao del Norte starting Saturday night, particularly on Siargao Island, a famous international surfing site.

Army Maj. Armando Rico, spokesman of the Armed Forces’ Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) based in Davao City, said the NPA guerrillas attacked the municipal halls and police stations of the towns of Dapa and General Luna on Siargao Island starting at around 10:45 p.m. Saturday.

Rico said the rebels, who reportedly numbered 120, first attacked the police station and torched a Globe Telecom cell site in General Luna, and then fled on board a passenger van toward neighboring Dapa town where they ransacked the police armory of 16 firearms.

The two towns – of the total nine municipalities on Siargao – are 14 kilometers apart. The island is about two to three hours by motorboat from the port of Surigao City.

Rico said the insurgents also raided courtrooms and several government offices in Dapa, including those of the Social Security System, local water district, Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

Government troops pursued the fleeing rebels, five of whom were reportedly killed yesterday in Lapinigan, an islet town in Surigao del Norte.

The Eastmincom dispatched a helicopter gunship yesterday to help the ground troops pursue the guerrillas.

Rico said the rebels boarded at least five pumpboats to flee Siargao Island toward Claver town in the Surigao del Norte mainland.

But only three of the pumpboats were able to dock in Barangay Panatao in Claver where joint military and police forces engaged the rebels in a firefight, capturing five of them.

Rico said the rebels could have taken advantage of the people’s focus on yesterday’s fight of boxing camp Manny Pacquiao with Mexican David Diaz.

But Senior Superintendent Samuel Yordan of the Caraga police command said they have warned all police units to brace for NPA attacks.

Sources said the government fatalities included two members of the Regional Mobile Group and two Army soldiers.

Police and military forces spent time yesterday removing the landmines planted by the fleeing rebels in certain areas between Dapa and General Luna towns. (philstar)

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