13 Die In Clashes With Guerrillas, Including Three Farmers
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Clashes between government troops and communist guerrillas across the Philippines in the past four days have killed 13 people, the military reported Wednesday.
Lt. Col. Anthony Elias, spokesman for the military’s Southern Command, said the bloodiest incident occurred Monday in the town of Tukuran in Zamboanga del Sur province, about 500 miles south of Manila on strife-torn Mindanao island.
Elias said an encounter between soldiers and about 50 heavily-armed communist New People’s Army rebels touched off a two-hour gunbattle that left five soldiers and two government militiamen dead. There were no casualties on the rebel side.
In nearby Zamboanga del Norte province, a soldier gunned down three farmers Sunday after they failed to produce identification cards at a military checkpoint in the town of Sibutad, according to the Task Force Detainees, a human rights group.
Myrna Patangan, spokeswoman for the group, told reporters that Constabulary Sgt. Leoncio Descalliar stopped five farmers at a checkpoint and asked them for their residence certificates. When they failed to produce the ID cards, a soldier with Descalliar accused them of being members of the New People’s Army and began beating them up. He then opened fire, killing three farmers, Patangan said. The other two escaped, she added.
But a police report on the incident said five men, armed with an M-14 rifle, a .38-caliber revolver and machete knives, were looking for another soldier at the checkpoint. When confronted, they attempted to grab Descalliar’s gun, prompting his aide to shoot.
The report said the soldier who shot the farmers turned himself in to police authorities pending investigation.
On Zamboanga Peninsula, government troops killed two rebels in two days of heavy fighting since Sunday, a military report said.
Lt. Col. Manuel Alajas, an army regional commander, said some 50 heavily armed rebels ambushed an army patrol on the outskirts of the town of Mutia, about 20 miles southeast of Dipolog, wounding four soldiers. The guerrillas withdrew, but pursuing troops caught up with them and killed two rebels. Two more soldiers were wounded, Alajas said.
On Panay Island, about 300 miles south of Manila, soldiers shot and killed a captured rebel Monday, who allegedly was trying to escape from a military camp in the town of Miag-ao.