END OF THE LINE. The photo of New People’s Army leader Emmanuel Balano “Salem” Anub Sr. who was killed in an encounter in Barangay San Juan, Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur on Thursday (March 30, 2023). Two other top leaders, identified only as Dano and Zig, also died in a skirmish in the same village on March 27. (Courtesy of 4ID)

BUTUAN CITY – Communist rebels operating in the Caraga Region lost three of its key leaders during a series of military operations by the Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID) on March 27 to 30.

The military operations were conducted to protect the communities in the region from the atrocities of the outlawed New People’s Army (NPA) that celebrated its 54th founding anniversary on March 29.

In a statement Friday, the 4ID identified the high-ranking NPA leader killed as Emmanuel Balano “Salem” Anub Sr., secretary of the NPA Sub-Regional Committee Westland who served in a concurrent position as the secretary of the Weakened Guerrilla Front 21 under the North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee.

Anub was killed during an encounter on Thursday in Sitio Hugmakan, Barangay San Juan, Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur.

“Based on the report of the 401st Infantry Brigade based in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur, the troops of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion encountered around 20 NPA rebels at the mountainous area of Sitio Hugmakan,” the 4ID said.

The skirmish lasted for 25 minutes which resulted in the death of Anub and the seizure of an AK-47 rifle with ammunition, the statement added.

Meanwhile, an encounter in Sitio Vertudazo, Barangay San Juan, Bayugan City on March 27 also led to the killing of two ranking NPA leaders in the region.

They were identified only as a certain Dano, the regional finance officer, and Zig, the regional medical staff.

Recovered at the encounter site were an M4 carbine rifle, a modified Carbine rifle, ammunition, and other war materials.

"The ever-increasing support that we are gaining from the local government units, other government agencies, and the communities is the key to this enormous achievement,” Maj. Gen. Jose Maria Cuerpo II, the 4ID commander, said.

He stressed that the 4ID will continue their operations against the remnants of the NPA in their area of responsibility without letup. (PNA)