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9 NPA rebels, 2 cops killed in Surigao clashes

June 30, 2008 - Government forces backed by two Air Force helicopter gun ships killed nine communist rebels in two separate gun battles in Surigao del Norte province yesterday, the military said.

Two policemen were also killed while four others were wounded.

Maj. Armand Rico, spokesman of the Armed Force’s Eastern Mindanao Command, said the first clash broke out in the town of Claver around 5:30 a.m. and the other took place on Lapinigan island six hours later.

Rico said the troops were composed of men from the Army’s 30th Infantry Battalion, 42nd Military Intelligence Company and policemen from the Regional Mobile Group.

He said the soldiers from the Army’s 30th Infantry Battalion, 42nd Military Intelligence Company supported by the Regional Mobile Police Group and the local police were pursuing New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who simultaneously attacked the police stations in Dapa and Gen. Luna towns in Surigao del Sur province on Saturday night.

Rico said after raiding the police stations, the rebels escaped aboard five rubber boats – two of them headed for Claver town while the three others for Lapinigan island.

During the running gun battle, five rebels were captured in Lapinigan.

“The boats they (rebels) commandeered encountered sea engine trouble. That’s why our troops engaged them,” Maj. Michelle Anayron, regional Army spokesman, said.

He said the government troops seized one M16 rifle and one M203 grenade rifle from the communist guerrillas.

“This actually started last (Saturday) night when the rebels attacked police stations in Dapa and General Luna. We reinforced and we were able to trace their withdrawal and our troops encountered them,” Rico said.

He said initially, troops led by 1Lt. Joselito Anti engaged the withdrawing rebels, who were reportedly members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee.

Brig. Gen. Ricardo David Jr., area command chief of the Army’s Northeastern and Northern Mindanao Fourth Infantry Division, had ordered Brig. Gen. Dante Fernandez, commanding officer of the 402nd Infantry Brigade to deploy more combat troops in Claver.

War planes and attack gunship helicopters of the Philippine Air Force’s strike wing and helicopter wing of the Armed Forces were also dispatched to extend air cover to the government troops pursuing the fleeing rebels.

The attack in Siargao Island, the most recorded peaceful area in Northeastern Mindanao (Caraga region) on Saturday night is the first to have happened in the island.

Initial police and military reports said at about 10:30 p.m. Saturday, NPA rebels simultaneously conducted a raid of two municipal halls and police stations, the Dapa, Surigao del Norte and Gen. Luna municipal halls and police offices all in Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte and carted away at least 16 long and short firearms.

Twenty of the estimated 60-man rebel group stormed the Dapa police station and swiftly disarmed the six policemen who were on duty at the time.

The other rebels ransacked nearby government offices situated within the Municipal Hall’s compound.

They also destroyed computers and other facilities of the Dapa Fire Station, Dapa Water District, Dapa Municipal Circuit and Trial Court, the local offices of the private pension fund Social Security System, the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. and the Public Attorney’s Offices.

Police said the rebels also destroyed computer and other equipment of the Dapa Municipal Police Office.

The insurgents also did the same in Gen. Luna, which is merely 14 kilometers away from Dapa.

Before they staged the attacks, the rebels allegedly knocked the communication facilities in the two towns. (daily tribune)

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