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4 rebels, trooper slain in Masbate encounter

Celso Amo, Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) - August 4, 2015 - 10:00am

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – Four suspected New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas and an Army trooper were killed while three other soldiers were wounded in a firefight in Cawayan town in Masbate Monday.

Reports said the troopers were in a civilian truck when the guerrillas ambushed them at about 4 p.m. in Barangay Tuburan.

Col. Cesar Idio, chief of the Army’s 903rd Infantry Brigade, said the troopers – who belong to the 9th IB – were on their way to provide security to police out to serve an arrest warrant to a village official in Barangay Cabungahan for gunrunning.

“Our troops were able to return fire, killing four rebels. They recovered a .45 caliber pistol at the encounter site,” Idio said.

The municipal police has yet to identify the slain insurgents, whose ages ranged from 20 to 25.

The rebels reportedly belonged to the NPA’s Komiteng Probinsya Larangan South.

Capt. Clint Antipala, spokesperson for the 903rd IB, identified the fatality as S/Sgt. Fernando Leynes Jr. and the wounded as Sgt. Pedro Umandap and Cpls. Ian Abonita and Rolly Razalo.

The wounded troopers were taken to the Masbate Provincial Hospital for treatment.

On the same day, combined police and military officers arrested two suspected NPA rebels identified as Vicente Verallo and Ronel Verallo Jr. for possession of firearms and explosives in Placer town.

Seized from the Verallos, who were arrested at their home in Barangay Libas were a laptop, a rifle, an improvised explosive device and communist propaganda materials.

Meanwhile, at least 13 suspected rebels raided the house of a village chief in Barangay Mapiña in Masbate City Monday morning.

Senior Superintendent Prexy Tanggawohn, officer-in-charge of the Masbate provincial police, said the rebels barged into the house of village chairman Tito Ibaya and carted away a laptop computer, a 9mm pistol, a hand-held-radio, clothing and P10,000 in cash.

Authorities are eyeing extortion as the motive for the attack, noting Ibaya refused to pay revolutionary taxes.

The rebels were reportedly asking a five percent share in a road project being undertaken by the city government in the village. – With Alexis Romero, Raymund Catindig

ACIRC BARANGAY CABUNGAHAN BARANGAY LIBAS BARANGAY MAPI BARANGAY TUBURAN CESAR IDIO CLINT ANTIPALA FERNANDO LEYNES JR. IAN ABONITA AND ROLLY RAZALO INFANTRY BRIGADE KOMITENG PROBINSYA LARANGAN SOUTH MASBATE CITY
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