Share |

4 dead in armed clash in Camarines Norte

CAMP ELIAS ANGELES, Pili, Camarines Sur (Feb 25, 2012) - Four people lay dead in a clash between Army soldiers and a band of NPA rebels in a hinterland village of Camarines Norte early afternoon today.

Lt Col Epimaco Macalisang, the Commanding Officer of the 49th Infantry Battalion, said that he sent a platoon of his unit after receiving a 'hot information' regarding the extortion activity of the rebels in Malaya village, Labo town.

"Our informant told me that the rebels were asking for food and extortion money from them. I readily dispatched my soldiers to check the veracity of the report," said Macalisang.

The clash broke out when the rebels started firing as soldiers approached their location at around 1:00 PM. The soldiers traded fires with the rebels who were positioned in concealed places around the encounter site.

The rebels fled after about 10 minutes of exchange of fires, leaving behind two of their dead comrades. There were no casualties among the soldiers who pursued the remnants of the armed rebels.

The soldiers confiscated two highpowered rifles including a Cal 5.56mm M4 Commando and a US Cal 7.62mm M14 Rifle from the slain bandits.

Residents who rushed to the scene identified one of the dead as Rafael Llanto a.k.a. Gopi, the second highest leader of the communist rebels in the region. They said that Llanto is a familiar face in the village during their extortion activities.

Another dead rebel was identified as Benjamin Manzera, 54, a resident of the said village.

Crossfire victims

Moments later, the soldiers who scoured the area discovered another two lifeless bodies of young boys who were caught in the fighting.

Macalisang identified the two as Michael Manzera,10, and his brother Richard, 7.

Another sister, Leoneza, 14, sustained a gunshot wound in her wrist and was promptly treated by the Army's combat medics. She is now recuperating in a hospital in Daet town.

Initial report states that the victims are the children of the slain rebel.

"I am saddened by this incident. I blamed it to the rebels who fired automatic shots at my soldiers, sending countless bullets in various directions," said Macalisang.

Another group of soldiers have proceeded to the area with SOCO operatives to conduct thorough investigation.

Major General Josue Gaverza, the Commander of the 9th Infantry Division, has condoled with the grieving relatives of the crossfire victims.

"I have offered the Army's assistance to the bereaved family members of the slain civilians. I am equally saddened by this unfortunate incident wherein these innocent children are caught in the crossfire. I have requested the PNP authorities in Camarines Norte to conduct a thorough investigation regarding this encounter," said Gaverza