ILIGAN CITY – An Army official of the 103rd Infantry Brigade (103rd IBde) on Sunday called on the New People’s Army (NPA) to allow children in their group to return to their respective families after two armed encounters that occurred on Saturday in Barangay Buntalis, Lumba-Bayabao town in Lanao del Sur.
Col. Jose Maria Cuerpo, the brigade commander, said during the clashes, government troops noticed that there were children looking on who they believed were not residents but likely relatives of the NPA fighters since the encounter site had no villages nearby.
“I’m calling (for these NPA fighters) to give these children to the nearby village leader so that we can help them return to their homes,” he said.
The latest clashes at past 9 a.m. and past 2 p.m. resulted in the death of an NPA member. A report from the 1st Infantry Division’s Public Affairs Office said the government troops “out-maneuvered the 20 NPA members, whom the military labeled as terrorists, in their lair”.
The government forces seized three high-powered firearms, 36 sacks of rice and other war materiel from the rebel group, which, according to the military, is also operating in the hinterland boundaries of Bukidnon and this city.
No government soldier was wounded in the clashes but the military believed there were wounded rebels based on the bloodstains discovered in their withdrawal routes.
“Residents and concerned citizens reported the timely and accurate report that led to the encounter that favored the government troops,” Cuerpo said.
He also said the armed men were the same group that conducted tactical offensives and previous ambuscades of government troops in Bukidnon near the boundary of Lanao del Sur province.
“They also threatened the front-liners who are helping the communities in defeating and mitigating the spread of Covid-19 disease,” Cuerpo said, referring to some atrocities in Luzon and Visayas areas.
Meanwhile, the slain NPA member was buried by soldiers in the area, according to Cuerpo.
“There are no residents in the area. The soldiers buried the dead enemy. It was a decent burial as respect to a human being,” he said. (PNA)