By MASIDING NOOR YAHYA
MAY 31, 2019
ILIGAN CITY: Eleven people were wounded when communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels ambushed on Thursday a convoy carrying foreign observers in Impasug-ong town of Bukidnon, the military said.
It was not clear whether any of the foreigners were hurt, but the Army’s 403rd Infantry Brigade (403IB) said seven of the wounded were military personnel, who were part of the team that provided security to the group.
In a statement, the 403IB said a group of local volunteers and foreign observers from Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia and Malaysia were visiting an Indigenous People’s (IP) community in Sitio
Mintapod, Barangay Hagpa, Impasugong to observe cultural preservation practices in the area.
While passing Sitio Nasandigan in Barangay Kalabugao of the town, the rebels detonated an anti-personnel mine that targeted the convoy, the 403IB said, adding that the soldiers returned fire, triggering a gunfight.
Authorities said three NPA rebels were also wounded.
“After the incident, the foreign delegation proceeded to Laguindingan Airport for their flight to their next destination,” the 403IB said.
The military said the foreign observers were invited by local IP community volunteers belonging to Higaonon Amamag Malandang Olandok Gagaw, a nongovernment organization that promotes cultural preservation in the area.
The international observers were also supposed to conduct a “forest visitation” in the area.
“We thought a tire exploded, then we heard a burst of fire, somebody shouted duck,” the military quoted one of the foreigners.
“We were afraid, but we are very thankful to Filipino soldiers for providing us protection,” the unnamed foreigner added.
Col. Edgardo de Leon, 403IB commander, said government troops recovered two more unexploded anti-personnel (AP) mines in the area.
“These AP mines could have injured the foreign observers. The EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) and PNP SOCO (Philippine National Police Scene of the Crime Operatives) were now recovering those AP mines to avoid harming civilians passing through,” de Leon added.
He described the incident as “a direct attack to civilians who are not involved and should be protected from any form of attack.”
He added: “This incident deserves international condemnation on the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA terrorists.”
The CPP-NPA was listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the Philippines. (The Manila Times)