16 NPA rebels killed in Eastern Samar clash
By Sarwell Meniano and Priam Nepomuceno / Philippine News Agency
TACLOBAN CITY – At least 16 People’s Army rebels were killed when the government troops launched an intense attack against the remaining members of the communist terrorist group in Dolores, Eastern Samar early Monday.
The day-long operations targeted an NPA lair manufacturing explosives in the upland village of Osmeña in Dolores at 4 a.m.
“No casualty on the government side. It’s just the initial body count on the enemy side since our soldiers are still scouring the area,” said Major Gen. Pio Diñoso, commander of the Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Division.
Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Col. Ramon Zagala said the AFP, through the Joint Task Force Storm, conducted joint ground, air and sea operations against NPA terrorists.
Figures will be updated once troops complete the operation, Zagala said.
"The AFP lauds the commitment of our troops for their outstanding resolve in our mission to protect the people from the threats of the communist terrorists," he added.
Reports reaching the Philippine National Police (PNP) regional office here Monday night disclosed that 25 rebels were killed during the armed encounter.
Soldiers of the 52nd Infantry Battalion have recovered at least 20 long firearms, a .45 caliber pistol, and a laptop.
Diñoso said they will release more details about the clash during a scheduled press briefing with Tacloban-based reporters Tuesday morning.
Dolores town is located 185 kilometers northeast of Tacloban, the regional capital.
Meanwhile, the PNP regional office alerted all its stations in Eastern Samar to intensify its checkpoint to intercept fleeing rebels as well as check health facilities for the presence of wounded NPA members.
Earlier, the Philippine Army said the armed struggle of NPA in Samar Island has already reached the point of “fighting for survival.”
The making of explosives to be used in treacherously attacking government forces is a proof that their number dwindling and they have no capacity to face soldiers in armed encounter, Diñoso said.
The Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)