Police personnel repelled an attack by suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels on a police detachment in Kiamba town, Sarangani province on Thursday night.
Col. Michael Lebanan, Sarangani police director, said on Friday an undetermined number of suspects opened fire at a community police assistance center (CPAC) in Barangay Suli, Kiamba around 8:20 p.m. Thursday using handguns and automatic rifles.
But he said the police team assigned at the detachment was able to retaliate and eventually forced the attackers to withdraw from the area.
No casualties were reported in the attack, which he believed was meant to harass their personnel and sow fear among the residents.
“It’s an act of cowardice and weakness. They took advantage of the night to create confusion and disorder to make it appear that they are still there,” Lebanan said in a phone interview.
As the suspected rebels were leaving the site, he said their personnel heard an explosion possibly fired from a rifle grenade near a sub-station of the South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative, which is around 500 meters from the CPAC.
The police official said there was no reported casualty or any damage to the facility as a result of the blast.
Responding elements from the Kiamba municipal police station, 2nd provincial police mobile force company, and the Charlie company of the Army 38th Infantry Battalion found at the site multiple spent shells from caliber .45 handgun, 7.62mm rifle, and M16 Armalite rifle.
He said a team from the Sarangani police’s explosive ordnance disposal unit was dispatched to the site early Friday to conduct a post-blast investigation.
“The joint clearing and hot pursuit operations are ongoing in the area along with troops from the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines),” Lebanan said.
He said investigators have already identified some of the “communist terrorist” perpetrators and appropriate charges will be filed against them.
Lebanan said Kiamba and the neighboring towns are on high alert and assured that the situation in the area remains under control.
The hinterlands of Kiamba are previously part of the claimed operational area of the NPA’s Guerilla Front 73-Far South Mindanao Region.
The Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines