>News Update 3 soldiers on outreach mission killed in Ifugao NPA ambush

>BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines – Suspected communist guerrillas killed three soldiers and wounded four others on their way to assist a medical mission in a mountain village in Ifugao province Saturday, the military said.

The ambush came five days after the weeklong suspension of hostilities between government troops and New People’s Army (NPA) rebels lapsed to pave the way for the resumption of formal peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front-Communist Party of the Philippines (NDF-CPP).

Lt. Col. Miguel Puyao Jr., public relations officer of the Army’s 5th Infantry Division, said the victims, all members of the 86th Infantry Battalion based in Ifugao’s Kiangan town, were hiking on their way to assist a medical mission when they were waylaid by the rebels led by one Casimiro Binayan in Caoayan village, Asipulo town Saturday morning.

In a text message, Puyao identified the slain soldiers only as Corporal Maravilla and Privates Cohena and Clemente, and the wounded as Pfc. Gorospe and Privates Canabang, Liclican and Liw-agan.

The Army could not say if the NPA suffered casualties, too, in the five-minute firefight that ensued after the ambush.

The 5th ID leadership led by Maj. Gen. Rommel Gomez denounced the ambush, saying though that it would not have any effect on the ongoing peace talks. 

“No matter whatever dastardly means the communist rebels will use to try to derail the peace initiatives of the national government under President Aquino, the officers and men of the 5th ID will continue to support the (peace process),” said Col. Loreto Magundayao, chief of the 5th ID’s civil-military relations operations battalion.

Meanwhile, an NPA rebel was killed in a clash with Army troops in Gubat, Sorsogon yesterday morning.

Maj. Harold Cabunoc, spokesman of the Army’s 9th Infantry Division, said a nine-man squad from the 49th Infantry Battalion was patrolling Barangay Villareal when they were ambushed by 10 rebels, triggering a firefight that lasted for about 10 minutes.

“A dead bandit was left behind by his comrades along with a bandolier loaded with 12 magazines with live ammo, approximately 100-meter detonating wire, one backpack, one improvised bomb and a handheld radio,” Cabunoc said.

Also recovered at the site were an improvised detonating device, two blasting caps, five batteries, one hammock, personal belongings and subversive documents.

Cabunoc said the body of the slain guerrilla was brought to the local police for identification. – With Raymund Catindig, Alexis Romero, Artemio Dumlao – By Charlie Lagasca

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