By ERWIN MASCARIÑAS
BUTUAN City–Police repulsed an attack by suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in an outlying village here on Thursday morning.
Authorities said the attack happened at around 8:11 am, resulting in an exchange of firepower between the Butuan City Police Office’s Station 5 forces and the armed group for about 28 minutes.
The police station is located in Barangay San Mateo, some 26 kilometers from the city proper.
Police said the perpetrators were from the NPA’s North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NMRC) Guerrilla Front-4A headed by Ryan Tanuja Sabanal a.k.a. Dante, Joberly Joy Escobillia a.k.a. Luis and one Jela or Baking.
A police officer, who asked not to be identified because he was unauthorized to speak for the Butuan police, said rebels fired several loose rounds at the police station.
“It was right after most of us finished our breakfast. We held on our ground inside the police station. It was hard to look out since they were picking at us out on the location of the windows. We just needed to make sure that they would not be able to get inside the premises of our police station,” he said.
Villagers said they saw several armed men pass by the river area near the bridge early in the morning.
According to Chief Supt. Noli Romana, regional director of police, the police officers stood their ground until reinforcing troops arrived.
“Rebels retreated without taking away any weapon or ammunition or hurting any policeman,” he said.
Romana said government forces may have inflicted casualties on the side of the guerrillas.
Troops from the 13th Regional Mobile Force Battalion and Butuan City Mobile Force Company reinforced and conducted clearing operations, said Romana.
Police found hundreds of empty ammunition shells from M-16, M-14 and AK-47 assault rifles.