Four members of the New People’s Army were killed while a wounded rebel was captured following two separate skirmishes with army troopers in Cotabato and Iligan City on Sunday.
The first clash occurred when army soldiers surprised a group of heavily-armed NPAs reportedly extorting from villagers in Sitio Kalo Kali, Brgy Bagumbayan, Magpet in Cotabato at around 1 p.m.
Col. Ehrlich Noel Paraso, commander of the 19th Infantry Battalion, said about 70 armed terrorists of Guerrilla Front 53 of the Southern Mindanao Regional Command scampered to different directions as troops opened fire at the rebel group.
Paraso said despite being outnumbered, the soldiers overwhelmed the rebel group in the firefight that lasted for about 30 minutes.
The rebels eventually retreated to different directions leaving behind a dead rebel and several wounded fighters.
An army soldier was also wounded in the fighting.
Paraso said a wounded rebel tried to evade soldiers who were conducting mapping operations after the fighting but was intercepted in a military checkpoint in Brgy. Gubatan and was immediately brought by an ambulance for medical attention.
Recovered from the battle scene were an M14 rifle, an M16 rifle with anM203 grenade launcher, an anti-personnel landmine, 5 magazines with 20 rounds of ammunition, 2 flags each from the NDF, NPA, and CPP, medical paraphernalia and subversive documents.
“We had been receiving reports from concerned civilians about the presence of the terrorist NPA in the area the reason why we launched our operations. This village was a former mass base of the terrorist group and they are trying to recover it by harassing the populace and threatening former rebels to rejoin them in their failed armed struggle,” Paraso said.
“Members of the terrorist group have a choice―they can remain and accept their fate of being killed in an encounter against government troops, or they can go back to their families and return to the mainstream society,” said Maj. Gen. Ronaldo Villanueva, commander of the 4th Infantry Division.
The second fighting took place in the outskirts of Butan City where army troops of the 29th Infantry Battalion battled CPP-NPA terrorist in Sitio Patagon, Brgy Anticala at about 1:30 p.m. Sunday leaving three terrorist killed.
Maj. Ronaldo Putol, Civil Military Operations officer said the firefight erupted after troops received information from a civilian that the NPAs were extorting money from the villagers.
He said that as soldiers were approaching Sitio Patagon, the NPA members believed to be members of Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee under Toto Anub fired at government forces sparking a firefight which lasted 10 minutes after which the rebels scampered to different directions leaving three dead comrades.
The troops recovered one AK47 rifle, two M16 rifles, and an M203 rifle grenade launcher at the encounter site.