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NPA boost recruitment of child combatants

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – The intelligence community warned of a renewed, extensive recruitment of child combatants by the New People’s Army in many areas in Southern Philippines.

A senior Army intelligence officer said the injuries sustained by eight male children in an accidental explosion during a recruitment session in Kibawe, Bukidnon last Monday was enough to confirm that the group has been busy expanding its ranks with child-combatants.

“That’s against International Humanitarian Laws and all other internationally crafted rules on armed conflicts,” seconded another source, who is a ranking intelligence operative of a unit under the Army’s 602nd Brigade.

Members of the directorate for intelligence in the regional police offices in Administrative Region 12 in Gen. Santos City, and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in Parang, Maguindanao said NPA forces have been threatening to harass parents in far-flung communities if they prevent their children from joining the group.

A still unidentified communist rebel was killed while 11 others, eight of them children, were injured in an accidental grenade blast that ripped through a clandestine gathering in Barangay Sampaguita in Kibawe town.

The NPA guerilla killed in the explosion was said to have accidentally set off his shoulder-fire 40 MM grenade launcher, causing a live round to explode.

The projectile landed and exploded near the site where dozen of prospective NPA recruits were undergoing orientation on the objectives of the rebel group and its revolutionary policies.

The injured villagers, mostly from nearby Barangay Cagawas, were rushed to the Bukidnon provincial hospital in Bukidnon in Maramag town for medication.

Col. Leopoldo Galon, spokesman of the Eastern Mindanao Command, said the Army’s 8th Infantry Battalion, which has jurisdiction over Kibawe and surrounding towns, is now documenting the incident in support of the efforts of the police to prosecute and hold the NPAs responsible for the incident.

Galon said the Eastmincom have been receiving feedback from local officials that the rebel group has indeed been recruiting children again lately. 
February 02, 2012 11:14 AM


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