Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Army slams NortCot NPAs for setting off landmine near communities

From the Philippine News Agency (Feb 27): Army slams NortCot NPAs for setting off landmine near communities

The military here has slammed the communist New People's Army (NPA) rebels for using landmines and plant these in far-flung but populated communities in Makilala, North Cotabato.

The rebels on Wednesday set off a landmine at a roadside in the village of Balatukan were the soldiers were about to pass in response to reports that rebels are mulcting civilian communities.

Alarmed by the coming of government forces, the communist prematurely set off the landmine. Lucky enough no civilians were hurt and no soldiers were harmed because the soldiers were about 500 meters away when the landmine went off.

Lt. Nasrullah Sema, speaking for the 57th Infantry Battalion, said soldiers were sent to the village of Bulatukan after they receive reports of an impending plan by the NPA to plant land mine along a route to be taken by soldiers. As the soldiers were coming, the land mine went off.

The soldiers were conducting clearing operations on Tuesday morning when they learned of the plot to set off landmines by the rebels. No soldiers were hurt in the explosion.

Sema said it was the eight landmines that the rebels set off in various areas in Makilala and the rebels’ main targets were government forces since January. Four of the explosion hit soldiers and two others wounded civilians and non combatants.

Sema lambasted the NPAs for using landmines despite the worldwide ban on the use of weapons of mass destruction. Sema said clearing operations continue in communities were the NPAs had been harassing and mulcting farmers.

Sema said guerrillas have been harassing civilian communities who ignore their demand for protection money.

Various groups have been calling for the removal of soldiers but Sema said majority of the villagers of Bulatukan want the soldiers to stay to protect them from harassment by the rebels.

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