CAMP AQUINO, TARLAC, OCTOBER 28, 2003  (STAR) By Benjie Villa  — Army troops were deployed around Isabela province yesterday to pursue some 30 New People's Army (NPA) rebels who ambushed a platoon of government soldiers in San Mariano town, killing at least four and wounding six others.

"Annihilate them," was the order of Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) commander Lt. Gen. Romeo Dominguez to 5th Infantry Division chief Maj. Gen. Samuel Bagasin.

Dominguez issued the order as two government troops were killed and another soldier was wounded in a dawn attack on a military detachment in San Miguel town in Zamboanga del Sur, a military official said here.

According to Dominguez, the rebels who staged the attack belonged to the NPA’s Benito Tesorio Command of the Cagayan Valley regional party committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

He said that slain during the six-hour gunbattle were Sergeant Marcelino Alcantara, Private Alfonso Cariño and one Pfc. Cabildo, all of the 53rd Reconnaissance Company; and, Corporal Leonardo Sedon, of the 45th Infantry Battalion.

Those wounded were identified as Corporals Daniel Gillona, Godofredo Logronin and Virgilio Manabat, Pfcs. Zosimo Vallo and Arnel Verzola, all of the 53rd Recon Coy; and Pfc. Jefford Manzano of the 45th IB.

Aside from this, the Nolcom commander said the rebels were also able to take from the fallen soldiers an M-16 rifle and a two-way radio.

Dominguez said that he has dispatched two MG520 attack helicopters to provide air support to pursuing troopers.

Despite the number of soldiers slain and wounded during the said encounter, Nolcom’s information officer, Lt. Col. Preme Monta, said that the NPA also sustained "an undetermined number of casualties based on personal accounts of civilian residents who saw the fleeing communist terrorists."

Meanwhile, two government troops were killed while another was wounded when NPA rebels attacked a military detachment in San Miguel town in Zamboanga del Sur, military officials said in Zamboanga City.

Armed Forces Southern Command (Southcom) chief Lt. Gen. Roy Kyamko said the rebels attacked the Fatima Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) under the 5th Infantry Battalion at about 2:40 a.m. yesterday.

The troops and militiamen tried to defend their post resulting in the killing of two troopers and the wounding of another.

Kyamko said the Southcom was not immediately aware of the strength of the rebels who overran the camps after almost an hour of fighting.

Armed Forces spokesman Lt. Col. Daniel Lucero said the rebels immediately abandoned the embattled site and fled towards the hinterlands of San Miguel town.

"Two MG520 attack helicopters have been dispatched and they conducted search operations while military reinforcements launched pursuit operations," Lucero said.

Lucero said it was not determined whether the attacking rebels suffered casualties as the embattled troops during the initial encounter put up heavy resistance before they were overpowered by the bigger group of the NPA. — With Roel Pareño

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved