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Rebels abduct Manobo tribesman in North Cotabato

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines - Communist rebels are holding captive a Manobo tribesman, who survived a landmine blast that left his brother and two soldiers dead three days ago in Makilala, North Cotabato.

The captive, Postelo Egkil, and his slain sibling, Jumer, were aiding members the Army's 40th and 57th Infantry Battalions (IB) locate encampments of the New People's Army in Barangay Buhay, when a soldier stepped on a landmine, triggering a powerful blast.

Two soldiers identified as Pfc. Celestino Alejandro and Pfc. Ismirol Musa, members of the 40th IB, died from the blast.

Army officials said Egkil could have been disoriented by the explosion and strayed deep into a nearby forest crawling with NPA fighters.

Manobo settlers in Barangay Buhay, located at the foot of Mt. Apo, have been helping the military track down NPA rebels in the area, apparently incensed by the rebels' excessive taxation activities.

Lt. Col. Noel Dela Cruz, The commanding officer of the 57th IB, said the rebels blasted 10 powerful roadside bombs Monday morning, as if trying to scare civilians for them no to cooperate with the military.

The bombing frenzy came at the heels of last week's bloody encounter between the Army and the rebels in Barangay Buhay, which left five soldiers wounded.

Local officials and key members of Makilala's municipal peace and order council have confirmed that four NPA rebels were killed while five others, mostly adolescents, were wounded in the ensuing firefights, which forced dozens of families to evacuate to safer areas.

The rebels were led by two notorious commanders, Budong and Enoy, both wanted for heinous offenses, including arson, armed robberies and multiple murders.

Makilala's municipal social welfare officer, Lina Canedo, said many of the evacuees are now housed in makeshift evacuation sites.

"Some of them are in the houses of their relatives in nearby barangays," she said.
Local officials are now trying to secure the release of the Manobo tribesman being held captive by the rebels.

John Unson | The Philippine Star | March 07, 2012 | Article Link


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