MANILA -- Troopers from the 17th Infantry Battalion's Joint Task Force "Tala" clashed with an estimated 30 New People's Army (NPA) rebels, forcing them to retreat in Rizal, Cagayan Saturday morning.

Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) spokesperson Lt. Col. Isagani Nato said the encounter took place around 6:30 a.m. in Sitio Tallat, Barangay Masi, Rizal, Cagayan.

The firefight lasted for about 45 minutes, which resulted in the retreat of the NPAs after sustaining an undetermined number of casualties.

Recovered from the scene were an improvised .22 caliber weapon; a two-way radio; three jungle packs; four improvised explosive devices, including one 12-volt car battery and wires; medicine pack; and subversive documents.

Nato said the encounter took place as a response to reports provided by residents on NPA presence and atrocities in their barangay.

"Nolcom will continue to conduct focused military operations in its area of responsibility to make the communist terrorist group insignificant, allowing development in NPA affected areas in Northern and Central Luzon, in cooperation with the populace, civil society organizations and the local government units, he added. (PNA)