LEGAZPI CITY (20May2013/PNA) – Three Army soldiers died and one was wounded Monday when they were hit by shrapnel from a landmine blast set by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Barangay Maninila, an upland village in Camalig town in Albay, said a Philippine Army official.
Lt. Col. Andrew Costelo, commanding officer of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Battalion, identified the slain soldiers as Army Corporal Sandy Senadan and Privates First Class (Pfc.) Jaypee Cortez and Rhoderick Barrameda.
Pfc. Roel Soltes was wounded, Costelo added.
He said in a text message that a squad of nine soldiers was tracking down a group of NPA rebels sighted in Sitio Sta. Lucia of Barangay Maninila, some 12 kilometers away from Camalig town proper and 24 kilometers from this city.
As the soldiers were pursuing the rebels, four of them were hit by a blast of a landmine planted by the rebels.
Three died in the explosion, which was followed by a volley of gun fire from the rebels who were at a vantage position.
The soldiers, however, were able to fire back at the rebels, who immediately withdrew to a mountainous area of the village, Costelo said.
He said the fleeing rebels were able to take a K3 automatic weapon and two M16 rifles.
Earlier that same day, a group of NPA rebels fired at an Army detachment with automatic rifles at about 8:30 a.m. in Barangay Del Rosario, an upland village some seven kilometers from Camalig town proper, said Chief Insp. Frandi Echaluce, Camalig town police chief.
Echaluce said in a phone interview that a running gun battle ensued between the attacking rebels and the Army soldiers manning the detachment.
He theorized that the incidents that occurred in Barangay Del Rosario and Barangay Maninila were initiated by the same group of rebels that killed the three Army soldiers.
Del Rosario is five kilometers away from Barangay Maninila, he added.
The pursuing soldiers in Barangay Maninila were believed to have been waylaid by the NPA rebels who were already positioned for the attack.
Echaluce said this upland village of Camalig is known to be a rebel-influenced barangay. (PNA)