2 dead as rebel offensives continue

July 1 - TWO enlisted personnel of the Army's Special Forces Battalion were shot and killed by suspected New People's Army (NPA) rebels inside an eatery in Compostela Valley, Monday morning.

Reports reaching Sun.Star showed that a certain Sergeant Alcos and Private First Class Estadian were eating inside the eatery in Nabunturan around 8:30 a.m. Monday when unidentified gunmen shot them several times.

The assailants then took the victims' firearms, one M16 and one M14, and fled.
In a follow-up operation by the military, the M14 was recovered from the possession of one dead rebel.

It was not clear though how the rebel was killed.

Major Armand Rico of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) denounced the treacherous attack made by the rebels, saying the soldiers were shot from behind.

NPA members also attacked a tunnel in Diwalwal, Monkayo on Sunday noon.

The rebels reportedly timed their attack while the people watched Manny Pacquaio's boxing bout with David Diaz.

One submachine pistol and three handguns were carted away by the rebels in the two mine tunnels.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) condemned the murder of the two soldiers.

"We condemn these treacherous acts of murder...an act (committed) more (by) a criminal and not a rebel with ideologies," Rico said in a text message.

Rico added the families of the two victims have decided to press charges against the rebel group.

In Surigao del Norte, the firefight between the rebels and joint police and military forces entered its third day Monday.

As of 9 a.m. Monday, government troops and the rebels are locked in a gun battle in Lapinigan Island.

About 15 rebels were reported killed by the military in the gun battle that started Saturday night when about 90 fully armed rebels simultaneously attacked the Dapa Municipal Police station and General Luna Philippine National Police station in Siargao Island.

A total of six short firearms and three M16 rifles were carted away by the rebels in Dapa, while four pistols, one M16, and four mobile phones were seized during the General Luna raid.

Major Rico said the rebels distributed leaflets to the residents in the two towns after the raid containing their explanation for the attack. He did not say though what the rebel's explanation was.

The rebels also reportedly hoisted the flag of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA before retreating.

On Sunday, joint police and military troops pursued the rebels who were seen sighted proceeding to Lapinigan Island onboard pump boats.

Another group of rebels was meanwhile intercepted by government's blocking forces in Claver town, resulting in a firefight. The Philippine Air Force provided air support.

The Army is sending more troops to Surigao del Norte as the rebels continue to stand their ground against government troops in Lapinigan Island.

Thousands of residents from the province fled their homes for fear of being caught in the crossfire. (sun-star)

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