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Army hunts down NPAs in South Cotabato attacks

KORONADAL CITY — Military authorities here have launched a province wide manhunt against a band of communist guerrillas who killed a security guard of a banana company and wounded five soldiers in an attack late Tuesday night in Tampakan town.

Colonel Ronald Jess Alcudia, 27th Infantry Battalion commander, said the the soldiers are now out of danger.

He said government forces and militiamen are pursuing them, in due time they will answer to the atrocities committed to peacekeepers.

He said a platoon size soldiers were on foot patrol near the banana firm’s airstrip when attacked by undetermined number of armed men believed to be New Peoples’ Army (NPA) in Barangay Kipalbig, Tampakan, South Cotabato.

Citing intelligence reports, Alcudia said the armed men were planning to inflict damages to the multi-national firm, including the plot destroy the light aircraft parked at the firm’s airstrip.

Responding to the report, Alcudia deployed a team of soldiers to Barangay Kipalbig as peacekeepers after armed men were sighted in the interior village.

He identified the slain security guard as asMelchorGalamagang who was declared dead on arrival at the South Cotabato provincial hospital here.

The wounded infantrymen were Privates First Class (PFC) John Ivan Suarte, Danny Mark Tandog, John Paul Salindong Mohammad Ali at Alfred Ablanzar.

Three of them were outpatient for suffering minor injuries while Ali and Ablanzar were moved to a private hospital in Gen. Santos City.

A 30-minute fire fight ensued until the guerrillas fled to the hinterlands of Barangay Kipalbig after the 11 p.m. skirmishes.

Alcudia could not specifically say whether or not the armed men suffered casualties. But added the soldiers found blood stain in the armed men’s escape route.

Villagers also told police they saw several wounded armed men carried by fleeing guerrillas.

The NPAs have been mulcting the firm, demanding hundreds of thousands of “protection money” but the banana plantation management ignored the demand and seek government protection.

Companies and business establishments whose owners refuse to give in to the NPA extortion activities were subjected to harassment, including burning of heavy equipment and assassination of firm executives.

The military arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines have been waging decades of war against the powerful and mighty Philippine military, to no avail.

Soldiers have been reaching out to far flung communities through its peace and development operation despite the danger of land mine, ambuscades and treacherous attacks by NPAs. (pna)

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