Army, NPA clash in NoCot

By Edwin Fernandez

September 21, 2017, 4:14 pm

COTABATO CITY -- Heavy firefight between soldiers and suspected rebels erupted Wednesday afternoon in a remote village in North Cotabato.

Lt. Silver Belvis, speaking for the Army's 39th Infantry Battalion, said Thursday the operation lasted for more than an hour and resulted in the recovery of war materials left by fleeing communist New Peoples’ Army.

Belvis said the fighting erupted at around 3 p.m. at sitio Kinampang, Barangay Balite in Magpet, North Cotabato.

Civilians alerted the militiamen and the Army’s 39th IB about the presence of 20 to 30 heavily armed rebels in the sub-village.

After verification, the Army launched offensive backed by helicopter attacks to flush out the rebels who were reported to be extorting civilians of farm produce.

Extortion is one of the fund-raising activities the NPA had been using against civilian farmers in remote villages and multi-national firms in North Cotabato.

Belvis said the rebels were under the command of Ronald Sagcaan of Pulang Bagani Group. They all belong to Guerilla Front 53 operating in North Cotabato’s second district.

No casualty was reported on government side.

Belvis told DXND Radyo Bida in Kidapawan that there were reports of NPA casualties but this has yet to be confirmed.

Clearing operations were immediately conducted by Army troops where 15 kilos of ingredients for making improvised explosive devices were found.

Belvis said government forces also recovered fragmentation grenades, ammunition and subversive and propaganda materials.

The Army has been bracing for counter-attacks from the communist rebels following the recovery of 20 Armalite rifles from the rebels in Kidapawan City last month and the arrest of a ranking NPA leader in Makilala, North Cotabato. (PNA)