Another soldier killed as fighting continues between Army troops and suspected NPA rebels

May 14, 2013 10:11 pm 

DUMAGUETE CITY, May 14 – Another soldier of the 79th Infantry Battalion was killed as fighting continued Tuesday between government troops and suspected rebels in the hinterlands of Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental.

The identity of the soldier is not being released until his next of kin has been notified, said Col. Francisco Patrimonio, commander of the 302nd Infantry Brigade, the mother unit of the 79th IB, in a phone interview Tuesday evening.

The slain soldier was earlier wounded in Tuesday’s encounter around 4:30 p.m. at Sitio Nahapan in Barangay San Pedro, Sta. Catalina. He died later of serious injuries, said Col. Patrimonio.

This is the 3rd casualty for the 79th IB in just two days of skirmishes in the mountains of Sta. Catalina. On Monday, a soldier was killed while another was wounded in a separate encounter in Barangay Milagrosa of the same town, about 94.2 kilometers south of this capital city.

Military helicopter gunships were employed for troop insertion in the hinterland areas as soldiers continue to pursue suspected rebels believed to be members of the NPA’s SDG Platoon “Robinson” of the Komiteng Rehiyonal Sentral Bisayas-South East Front.

Lt. Col. Marion Sison, 79th IB commander, said in a separate phone interview that his men were conducting relentless combat patrol operations against the purported rebels to avert plans of “sabotaging” Monday’s elections.

The relentless pursuit of the rebels is part of the military’s internal security operations as well as to complement civilian efforts for peaceful and orderly elections.

Col. Patrimonio, on the other hand, called on civilians residing in nearby villages to adopt precautionary measures as he advised them to not venture in critical areas to avoid being hit by stray bullets.

The Army brigade commander also allayed fears by residents of being hit by crossfire.

Fr. Mark Vilos of the San Francisco, Sta. Catalina parish said an undetermined number of voters were reportedly unable to cast their ballots after learning of the firefight in Milagrosa Monday morning.

The voters rushed out of the voting center in San Francisco and rode in “habal-habal” motorcycles to the mountains to secure their families amidst fear of being hit by stray bullets, the priest said. (PNA)

LAP/JFP

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