July 18, 2018, 8:00 pm
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NPA rebels attack soldiers in rescue mission

COMMUNIST New People’s Army rebels on Saturday waylaid government forces on their way to Northern Samar to help in efforts to rescue victims of floods caused by storm “Urduja.”

Two of the soldiers were wounded in the attack and are now recuperating at a hospital, said 2Lt. Michele Estares, civil military operations officer of the Army’s 20th Infantry Battalion based in Catarman, Northern Samar.

Estares said 20th IB forces were sent to Barangay Hinagonoyan in Catubig town to help in the ongoing humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations, particularly in the rescue of residents affected by flooding.

He said the soldiers, who were on foot, were waylaid by about 50 NPA rebels at around 3:20 p.m., triggering a firefight that lasted for an hour and 25 minutes.

Wounded were Cpl. Yzarel Laure and Pfc. Ronald Gomez who were taken to the Northern Samar Provincial Hospital while the withdrawing rebels incurred an undetermined number of casualties.

“The troops were sent there to conduct rescue operation. They were walking in a muddy area when they were attacked by the rebels who are apparently aware of the troop movement,” Estares said.

Col. Edgard Arevalo, chief of the AFP public affairs office, said the attack “only manifested the true color of these communist terrorists” and “validated the aptness of government’s decision to terminate the peace negotiations and to discontinue the traditional Christmas truce.”

NPA rebels have stepped up attacks against government targets since President Duterte issued a proclamation on November 23, officially terminating peace negotiations with the communist movement.

On December 5, the President again issued another proclamation, this time classifying the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the NPA, as terrorist organizations.
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