Army repels attack on relief convoy

Government forces thwarted an ambush on Tuesday by New People’s Army rebels of a military and Red Cross convoy on the way to aid typhoon Yolanda victims in Samar and Leyte.

Capt. Marjorie Paimela Paniza, public affairs chief of the Army’s 9th Infantry Division, said a firefight at 5:25 a.m. left two of the attackers dead and another wounded.

“The wounded and captured rebel was brought to the hospital,” she said, adding that responding troops from the 31st and 22nd Infantry Battalions fought less than 20 rebels in Barangay Bolacawe in Matnog town.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda condemned the attack, saying political differences should not get in the way this time.

“We would like to ask these rebel groups not to disrupt the delivery of aid to the affected people in Eastern Visayas,” he said.

Paniza said the rebels belonged to the command of Jesus Guelas alias Gapa/Insoy from the Larangan 2 Komiteng Probinsiyal-Sorsogon.

She identified the casualties as alias Abel, of NPA-Sorsogon and alias Win, of NPA-Sentro de Gravidad.

“Our troops also recovered an M653 or Baby Armalite rifle, three M16 rifles, an M14 rifle, and some improvised explosive devices,” Paniza said.

Armed Forces Chief Emmanuel Bautista said the NPA had disrupted relief operations last year in Mindanao.

“They attacked after typhoon Pablo,” he said, noting there will be no declaration of suspension of military operations now.

“There is no formal declaration of ceasefire because we are focused on rescue and relief,” he said. “We cannot stop security operations for the safety of our soldiers.” With Joyce Pañares


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