3 soldiers wounded

THREE soldiers under the 30th Infantry Battalion were wounded in an attack staged by members of New People’s Army (NPA) in Barangay Mat-i, Surigao City around 1 a.m. yesterday.

The firefight happened a day after the communist rebel abducted a soldier belonging to the same army company in Barangay Budlingin, Alegria, Surigao del Norte.

Lt. Col. Rico Amaro, the commander of 30th Infantry Battalion, told TIMES that members of 30th IB and 75th IB were fired upon by about 10 NPA guerillas under the Guerilla Front 16, NEMRC led by alias Lucas at Sitio Brazil in Mat-i.

The soldiers were able to return fire, resulting to a 15-minute firefight. The NPA withdrew toward the northeast direction.

Amaro said the government troopers were resting when they were attacked by the NPA.

Name of the wounded soldiers were not released pending the notification of their families.

“The NPA used M203 grenade launcher,” Amaro said. “The soldiers were hit by shrapnel and they sustained minor wounds.”

He said the soldiers were conducting community-related activity, in relation to peace and development outreach program, in the barangay.

Amaro said the activity was in coordination with the local government unit

“The local government is trying to reach out with the rebels to know the reasons why they staged the attack,” Amaro said.

“There is an ongoing ceasefire,” he said adding that such act is affected the peace talks. “We treat this as a normal criminal act of the NPA.”

On October last year, Amaro met and had a picnic with three ranking NPA leaders in their area of responsibility as their way of supporting to ongoing peace negotiations between the government and communist group.

He talked with three leaders of the NPA Guerilla Front Committee 16, NEMRC, the same group that attacked the troopers and abducted PFC Erwin Salan on Sunday.

Amaro said he is personally confused as why the NPA is staging the series of attacks.

“It is really hard to speculate what’s their motive unless we can get statement from them,” he said.

He said he is trying to reach out with the commanders but there is still no response from them.

On Sunday, Salan, a member of Peace and development team of the 30th IB, was with the local residents when they were blocked by 15 armed guerillas in Barangay Budlingin.

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