Negros farmers and their families hear mass Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at the San Diego Cathedral in Silay City. The farmers, who march around the provinces beginning Monday, have appealed to Philippine leader Gloria Arroyo to prolong Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. (Photos by VJ Villafranca)
Officials said the attacked occurred before dawn near a village called Lakiki in Sibuco town, a known MILF stronghold west of Mindanao island. The attack on police forces sparked a running gun battle in the area.
Troops from the Army’s 44th Infantry Battalion on a nearby village were sent to pursue the attackers, but gunmen split into smaller groups and fled to the hinterlands.
“We received reports that several gunmen were wounded in the fighting and troops were sent to pursue the attackers,” Major Eugene Batara, a regional army spokesman, told the Mindanao Examiner.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but the local police blamed the MILF for the ambush. The motive of the attack is still unknown, but rebels have previously assaulted security forces patrolling near their camps.
The MILF, which has been fighting the government for almost four decades for a separate Muslim homeland in Mindanao, is currently negotiating peace with Manila. (With a report from Ely Dumaboc)
The fighting broke out near the village of Campawan in the seaside town of Baganga in Davao Oriental province where troops attacked a stronghold of the New People’s Army (NPA). It was not immediately known how many insurgents were killed in the fighting, but General Ernesto Boac, commander of the 10th Infantry Division, said security forces were pursuing about 70 gunmen.
“Five of my soldiers are killed and there is an ongoing operation in the area. We are pursuing NPA terrorists,” Boac told the Mindanao Examiner.
He said villagers were also helping authorities by providing information about the NPA, blamed for the string of attacks on government and civilians targets in the province the past years.
Col. Benito de Leon, a regional army spokesman, said at least six soldiers were also wounded in the fighting and that villagers have reported undetermined number of enemy casualties. “We are awaiting reports from our ground commanders in Baganga town. Six soldiers are wounded in the fighting,” he said in a separate interview.
There was no immediate statement from the NPA about the clashes or its casualties, but Philippine military chief General Hermogenes Esperon has previously ordered a heightened offensive against the insurgents, which are fighting to overthrow the democratic government and install a Maoist state in the country.
The Philippine government opened peace talks with the insurgents, but negotiations collapsed in 2004 after the United States listed the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA and its political arm, the National Democratic Front, as foreign terrorist organizations on Manila’s prodding.
The NPA is estimated to have about 7,500 armed members, but the military said the number has dwindled to a little over 5,000. Aside from communist insurgency, Manila is also fighting Muslim secessionist rebels and Abu Sayyaf terrorists in the southern region.(Mindanao Examiner)
Police said the accident occurred in the town of Carmen. The jeep rammed the truck after overtaking another vehicle at around 8.40 a.m. The jeep’s driver was instantly killed in the crash, including children and women, many were heading to work and schools.
At least 15 other passengers were injured in the accident, police said, adding, most of the injured victims are at a hospital in Kabacan City. (With a report from Mark Navales)
Task Force Mapalad farmers in Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental march to dramatize their calls for the immediate passage of a law extending the government’s agrarian reform program which will end this year. (Photos by V.J. Villafranca)
ILIGAN CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 29, 2008) – Unidentified gunmen attacked Tuesday a Philippine Army convoy in the southern province of Lanao del Norte, where US and Filipino troops are to begin a joint anti-terror training exercise, officials said.