Photos released by the Eastern Mindanao Command to the Mindanao Examiner show troops helping a wounded soldier out from a chopper.
DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 11, 2014) – The Philippine military said six soldiers were injured in clash with communist rebels in the southern region of Mindanao where insurgents are fighting for decades for the establishment of a separate state.
Capt. Alberto Caber, a spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Command, said the fighting erupted in Digos City in Davao del Sur province. Citing reports from the 10th Infantry Division, Caber said several members of the New People’s Army were believed killed or wounded in the fighting on Monday afternoon.
“We have six soldiers wounded in the battle and there could be more casualties on the enemy side,” Caber told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.
The rebels detonated a roadside bomb while troops were patrolling a village and sparking a gun battle in the area. Caber said villagers provided information to the military about the presence of gunmen extorting money from locals.
Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz III, the Eastern Mindanao Command chief, condemned the rebels' continued use of landmines, saying, the NPA violated an accord that banned the use of landmines in the country. The Geneva Convention also banned the use of landmines, he said.
Security forces have launched a follow up operation on Tuesday against the insurgents who broke into smaller groups and fled to the hills.
The small offensive coincided with the visit of Philippine military chief Emmanuel Bautista at the Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao.
Caber said the arrival of Bautista was part of his visits to all unified commands in order to directly oversee their respective operational thrust in connection with the implementation of the Internal Peace Security Plan called “Bayanihan.”
Communist groups and leftist activists have blamed “Oplan: Bayanihan,” the government’s anti-insurgency campaign, to the deaths of innocent civilians caught in the military offensive in the region. The military has strongly denied the accusations and branded them as communist propaganda.
Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz III, the Eastern Mindanao Command chief, briefed Bautista on the progress of the Bayanihan. Caber said Bautista praised Cruz for the success of the Bayanihan in Mindanao and for continuously winning the peace in the region.
The NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, have vowed to launch punitive actions against military forces and government targets in Mindanao. (Mindanao Examiner)