11 soldiers killed, seven others wounded in NPA clash in Mindoro

March 7, 2010 1:24 am 

MANILA, March 6 – Government troops on Saturday launched a manhunt against about 60 communist New People's Army (NPA) rebels who ambushed and killed 11 soldiers in an early morning skirmish on Mindoro Island, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said.

Seven other soldiers belonging to the 23rd Division Reconnaissance Company were also wounded in the about three-hour fightfight that ensued.

Identities of the fatalities were withheld by AFP so officials can confirm and notify the next of kin immediately.

AFP spokesman Col. Romeo Brawner told the Philippines News Agency (PNA) in a text message that at least two battalions of the Philippine Army (PA) in Mindoro are chasing the rebels who claimed the lives of soldiers in a mountainous area in Barangay Panaytayan in Mansalay town at 5:30 a.m. Saturday.

Brawner said the reinforcements, backed by helicopter gunships, were deployed to track down the rebels.

Brawner said the soldiers killed were part of a platoon of the 23rd Division Reconnaissance Company (DRC), who were on patrol outside Mansalay.

“We sympathize with the families of our soldiers who offered the supreme sacrifice in order to deliver to our fellow Filipinos our mandate of protecting their votes,” Brawner told PNA.

He said the troops had been sent to the area to stop NPA communist rebels extorting money from candidates ahead of May's elections.

Brawner said a number of rebels were also wounded in the three-hour gunbattle. "The troops fought it out literally to the last bullet," he said.

The soldiers were led by 2nd Lt. Ronnie Sipsip. They were conducting “clearing operations" through security patrols in preparation for the upcoming campaign period for local government officials on March 26 when the ambush happened. (PNA)RMA/JCA

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