Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Mines, IEDs used by NPA to wound, kill civilians - report

From the Manila Bulletin (Apr 9): Mines, IEDs used by NPA to wound, kill civilians - report


Iraqi Police discovered this improvised explosive device Nov. 7 (2005) in eastern Baghdad and disarmed it before it could be detonated in a terrorist attack. Army photo. The IED comprises 4 large artillery shells plus an anti-tank mine, all connected together via detonating cord. This would cause the 5 devices to detonate simultaneously. According to a report from the AFP, the New People's Army (NPA) uses similar devices to devastating effect in their fight against the Philippine government.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Tuesday exposed the cruelty of the Communist New People's Army (NPA) as it reported the death of 113 people and wounding of 262 others from landmine incidents and other IED (improvised explosive device) attacks carried out by the insurgent group in the past 10 years.

A report released by the AFP Public Affairs Office (PAO) headed by Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos, Jr. said a recent study completed by the military on the atrocities of the NPA showed that over the past decade, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has perpetrated 107 landmine and IED attacks that have resulted in the death of 113 people and wounding of 262 others. The victims include innocent civilians, both young and old.

The AFP noted that the use of landmine and IEDs are usually followed by NPA ambuscades, which are prohibited tactics long practiced by the insurgent group since the beginning of their armed violence.

The region with the highest incidence of landmine activity is Region XI with 38 incidents that occurred particularly in Davao Del Sur, followed by the CARAGA region with 20 recorded incidents particularly in Surigao del Sur.

Likewise, most of the recoveries of landmines/IED paraphernalia occurred in these regions, with the level of insurgency in these areas considered high.

On Monday, the military said government troops have recovered five landmines in Compostela Valley Province during the first week of April this year.

Four of these landmines were discovered last April 5 by Army troopers during the subsequent clearing operations after an encounter with the NPA at Barangay Libudon, Mabini town. The encounter was triggered by the simultaneous explosion of three landmines, which left two soldiers killed and two others wounded.

The recovered landmines and the exploded IEDs were all laid along the stretch of the barangay road. Other explosives and assorted ammunitions were also recovered from a discovered NPA encampment near the encounter site.

The military said the NPAs are have resorted to inhumane tactics, including the use of IEDs because of their declining capability to engage government troops.

"The noted increasing trend on the use of IEDs by the NPA shows that the insurgents are shifting strategies due to their dwindling number and lack of firearms and ammunition. Thus, the insurgents will try to offset the more superior and more advanced AFP/PNP firepower capabilities by using IEDs to increase the lethality of their attacks during armed engagement," according to the AFP.

"Also, the NPA will continue to use landmines and IED’s as part of its strategy of intensifying their tactical offensives to sow fear among innocent civilians from peaceful communities and force business owners and private individuals to give in to their extortion demands," it added.

Last year, information from line units of the AFP revealed that the NPA rebels have collected up to P25 million extortion money from civilians. The AFP said this is a significant decrease from the P300 million reported in 2011 because of the concerted countermeasures employed by the military, Philippine National Police (PNP), and local government units.

The AFP also has its guards up as it continues its intensified intelligence and monitoring efforts, network sharing with other law-enforcement agencies, and active cooperation with the PNP to thwart any atrocities and violence which are mostly extortion-related.

According to the AFP’s Human Rights Office (HRO), “we can make the NPA accountable through Republic Act 9851.” RA 9851, or the new “Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity” was signed into law on 11 December 2009, is a breakthrough law for the enforcement of international humanitarian law (IHL) as well as human rights in the Philippines.

“Our office documents all the cases of landmines and ambuscades to assist in the filing of appropriate charges against the NPA. We now have a law that will make them accountable for crimes against humanity,” said Brig. Gen. Domingo Tutaan, head of the AFPHRO.

“We call on all sectors [of society] for a collective effort to stop the NPAs from using IEDs and end the useless armed violence. NPA’s use of IEDs has been their continuing violation of IHL and HR. IEDs are banned because it causes inhumane effects on those killed and wounded. Even if it is command detonated, it may just explode hurting civilians, including women and children,” said Tutaan.

For its part, the AFP has directed its tactical units to always be vigilant and proactive when conducting security operations especially along high-speed avenues of approaches and road networks to deny the communist rebels the opportunity to inflict casualties not only to government troops but to civilians and non-combatants as well.

The AFP said that in 2012, the NPAs were responsible for 374 violent incidents recorded which caused the death of 53 civilians all over the country.

Such atrocities against civilians, including private firms and individuals, even poor folks in far flung villages of the country have further eroded their mass base support.

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