Thursday, May 30, 2019

11 hurt as Reds attack foreign observers in Bukidnon

From the Philippine News Agency (May 30, 2019): 11 hurt as Reds attack foreign observers in Bukidnon

A Google map of the Bukidnon town of Impasug-ong.

Communist guerrillas attacked a convoy carrying foreign observers in the Impasug-ong town of Bukidnon Thursday (May 30), wounding 11 persons.

It was not clear whether any of the foreigners were hurt, but the Army' 403rd Infantry Brigade said seven of the wounded persons were military personnel who were part of the team that provided security to the group.

A press release from the 403IB said a group of local volunteers and foreign observers from Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia, and Malaysia were visiting an Indigenous People's community in Sitio Mintapod, Brgy. Hagpa, Impasugong, to observe cultural preservation practices in the area.

While passing Sitio Nasandigan in Brgy. Kalabugao of the town, however, the communist rebels detonated an anti-personnel mine that targeted the convoy, the 403IB said.

The soldiers returned fire and chased the communist rebels, wounding three NPA combatants, the 403IB said.

"After the incident, the foreign delegation proceeded to Laguindingan Airport for their flight to their next destination," the 403IB said.

According to the military, the foreign observers were invited by local IP community volunteers belonging to Higaonon Amamag Malandang Olandok Gagaw (HAMOG), a non-government organization that promotes cultural preservation in the area.

The international observers were also supposed to conduct a "forest visitation" in the area.

"We thought a tire exploded, then we heard a burst of fire, somebody shouted duck," the military quoted one of the foreigners.

"We were afraid but we are very thankful to Filipino soldiers for providing us protection," the unnamed foreigner added.

Col. Edgardo de Leon, 403IB commander, said government troops managed to recover two more unexploded anti-personnel mines in the area.

"These AP mines could have injured the foreign observers. The EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) and PNP SOCO (Philippine National Police Scene of the Crime Operatives) are now recovering those AP mines to avoid harming civilians passing through," de Leon said.

He described the incident as "a direct attack to civilians who are not involved and should be protected from any form of attack."

He added: "This incident deserves international condemnation on the CPP-NPA terrorists," referring to the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People's Army.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

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