August 1, 2011
FIGHTING INTENSIFIES IN CARAGA REGION IN NORTHEAST MINDANAO
Caraga Region, Mindanao,, Philippines—the EPCC NEWS based in Los Angeles reported today that at least a dozen New People’s Army (NPA) rebels and an Army soldier were killed Sunday following fierce clashes between government forces and the rebels in Loreto, Agusan del Sur, a military official said Monday.
But Colonel Rodrigo Diapana, commander of the Army’s 402nd Infantry Brigade based in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur, admitted that out of the 12 rebels reported killed by soldiers, only four bodies had been recovered so far.
Diapana said Sunday’s loss was a major setback for the NPA. On the other some analyst says the NPA also intensified its tactical offensives in response to intesfied AFP/PNP operations in Mindanao despite the NDF-GPH peace talks.
AFP Division- Size Operations in Caraga Intesifies
He said military operation against the rebels was continuing in the borders of Agusan del Sur, Compostela Valley and Bukidnon.
Caraga, the mine-rich region which Agusan del Sur belongs to, is one of Mindanao areas where the NPA maintains an active presence.
In April, the rebels also stormed the police station of Liangga town in Surigao del Sur.
The deadly encounter, he said, was the result of pursuit operation against rebels, who raided the Trento town police station on Saturday. At least two civilians were killed and two police officers were injured in the Trento attack.
Diapana said his men were scouring a forested area in Binocayan village in Loreto town when they chanced upon a band of rebels belonging to the Front Committee 34 of the NPA’s Southern Mindanao Regional Party Committee around 7 a.m.
A two-hour long firefight ensued. The rebels, numbering at least 40, later fled, he said. Diapana said the four slain rebels had not been identified yet.
The dead soldier was Ricky Lantrong, he said, without providing a rank. “Several high-powered firearms, documents, food supplies, and personal belongings were also recovered from the encounter scene,” he said.