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9 NPA rebels, 2 cops die in Surigao Norte clashes

BUTUAN CITY June 30, 2008 —At least nine communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels and two policemen were killed as clashes between government forces and the rebels continued in Surigao del Norte as of 3 p.m. Sunday, a military spokesperson said.
Four policemen were also injured in the clashes, according to Maj. Armand Rico, spokesperson of the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command based in Davao City.

The clashes have now spread to Claver town where government forces have conducted blocking operation against NPA rebels fleeing the military pursuit on Siargao Island, he said.

Rico said the bodies of the slain rebels had been recovered.

He said the joint police and military operations were launched after the communist rebels raided the police stations of General Luna and Dapa towns on Saturday evening.

The first attack occurred in General Luna town when more than 30 NPA rebels on board pump boats assaulted the police station at around 10:30 p.m., according to Surigao del Norte police chief Senior Supt. Benhur Mongao.

“They engaged the rebels but they were no match against the rebels’ superiority in number so the station was [captured],” Mongao told the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of INQUIRER.net).

He identified the wounded policeman as PO1 William Dayday, who was rushed to a hospital in Surigao City.

After overpowering the lawmen, Mongao said the rebels ransacked the station’s armory and took five firearms and communications equipment.

“The rebels also bombed a Globe tower to prevent troop reinforcements before they proceeded to the nearby town of Dapa, a 15-minute motor ride from General Luna where they were joined by 30 other rebels,” he said.

In Dapa, Mongao said the rebels swooped down on the police station on board three vans and overpowered the six policemen on duty.

Aside from taking with them M-16 rifles and six pistols from the station’s armory, the rebels also ransacked the offices of the town’s fire station, water district, Bureau of Internal Revenue, PhilHealth, Social Security System and court rooms, he said.

“Before retreating, the rebels hoisted the flag of the Communist Party of the Philippines at the municipal hall and distributed subversive leaflets,” Mongao said.

Rico said pursuing troops managed to catch up with the rebels in Dapa and engaged them in a firefight.

“The military has sent a helicopter gunship to aid the troops in battling the rebels,” he said.

The NPA has stepped up attacks in various parts of Mindanao even as the government declared it will end the rebellion by 2010. (inquirer)

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