The online news portal of TV5
MANILA, Philippines - At least seven communist rebels were killed in a 45-minute firefight with soldiers on Saturday in Sitio Tappo, Barangay Banawel, Natonin, Mt. Province, Maj. Gen. Rommel Gomez, commander of the Army’s 5th Infantry Division, reported.
Gomez, however, said the soldiers involved in the firefight had no body count but only cited the accounts of civilians who saw rebels flee with their dead and wounded. Some of them were even asked to help carry the dead at some point.
“Our soldiers were still pursuing the rebels and [trying to] find out where they might have buried their dead,” Gomez said in a phone interview. He said the rebel camp can accommodate more than 30 persons based on the makeshift shelters found inside the camp.
At around 6 a.m. Saturday, a platoon or more than 30 soldiers from the 54th Infantry Battalion attacked the temporary encampment of the New People’s Army (NPA) under the leadership of a certain Commander Arthur Talastas.
The battalion commander of the 54th IB, Lt. Col. Steve Crispillo, said they received civilian reports that one of the dead was a 48-year-old woman from Kalinga province.
“The encounter site is located in the tri-boundary of Mt. Province, Ifugao and Isabela. I have already coordinated with the battalion commander of the 86th IB for support in case the fleeing rebels crossed to their area of jurisdiction,” Crispillo said.
The soldiers recovered an M-16 rifle, two rifle grenades, ammunition for M203 grenade launcher, a rifle scope and subversive documents.
In a separate phone interview, the battalion commander of the 86th IB based in Kiangan, Ifugao, Lt. Col. Eugene Batara, said he sent a platoon of soldiers for hot pursuit and set up a blocking force to possible exit routes.