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4 NPAs slain in Cagayan clash

ANGELES CITY, Philippines – Four New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas were killed and scores of others, including three civilians, were wounded in a running gunbattle yesterday between the insurgents and men of the Army’s 17th Infantry Battalion in Baggao, Cagayan.

In a report, the Armed Forces’ Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) said the clash started as early as 5:30 a.m. when the Army’s Bayanihan patrol led by 2Lt. Kenneth Pangcoga was fired upon by a group of NPA rebels.

The identities of the slain rebels were not immediately known, but the three civilians wounded in the crossfire were identified as Zaldy Durado, 25; Arnold Pasion, 30; and four-year-old Amolito Durado.

Nolcom said civilians tipped off Pangcoga as early as 4 a.m. to warn the group of the rebels’ presence in Barangay San Miguel, Baggao town.

Items recovered by government troops included two M-16 rifles, a shotgun, a generator set, a laptop and computer printer, a cellular phone, and subversive documents, Nolcom said.

Nolcom spokesman Capt. Jovily Carmel Cabading said, “We, as soldiers, do not rejoice in the death of these four rebels. They are our fellow Filipinos.”

“It is just unfortunate that they opted to trek the wrong path. We will find more fulfillment in our mission if people like them will voluntarily lay down their arms and start life anew with their loved ones. We do not want unnecessary bloodshed,” she said.

Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Alvin Flores, the commander of the 17th IB, requested for medical teams instead of the usual combat reinforcement to the scene of the firefight.

“We are sending a message to the wounded NPA (rebels) that we will receive them with open arms and will definitely attend to their medical needs. We have no choice but to stop the hot pursuit operations because they opted to hide inside the civilians’ abode,” Flores said.

“If they fire at our troops first, we cannot immediately fire back fearing for the presence of civilians inside the houses. If they continue to hide inside the houses, it will appear that they are holding the civilians hostage,” he added. – With Ric Sapnu, Charlie Lagasca, Raymund Catindig, Artemio Dumlao, Jaime Laude - By Ding Cervantes (Philstar News Service, www.philstar.com)

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PhilStarFri, Oct 28, 2011

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