5 Soldiers Killed In Southern RP Clash

January 30, 2008 at 4:36 pm | Posted in 1 | 1 Comment
DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 30, 2008) – At least 5 soldiers were killed and six more wounded in fierce clashes Wednesday with communist insurgents in the southern Philippines, army commanders said.

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)

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