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2 soldiers dead in NPA ambush

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Tuesday said two Army soldiers were killed following an ambush stage by suspected New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas in Echague, Isabela on Monday.

AFP Public Affairs Office (PAO) chief Marine Colonel Edgard A. Arevalo, identified the fatalities as Corporals Gary Camaneg and Virgilio Herera, both members of the Army’s Bravo Company, 86th Infantry Battalion.

The AFP said the families of the slain soldiers have already been notified of their deaths.

Arevalo said one of the soldiers from the 86th Infantry Battalion was killed on the spot following the attack. The other Army personnel earlier reported wounded died Tuesday while undergoing treatment at a local hospital.

The Army’s 502nd Brigade commander Colonel Bartolome Bacarro said the duo were on board a motorcycle Monday morning on their way to check on a tree-planting project at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Office in San Isidro when they were waylaid by their attackers.

The victims, who were about to follow-up on a request regarding their tree-planting activity, were not in uniform, unarmed and were wearing civilian clothes when the attack happened.

Bacarro said barangay officials who were on board a multicab escaped the attack as they were moving behind the troops.

“Its unfortunate that they had to do that. They (NPAs) themselves violated their own declaration of a unilateral ceasefire. So this is just to show how untrue they are in the peace talks,” Bacarro said. “However, we will still abide with our own declaration of a unilateral declaration and services in the barangays.”

On Sunday, an unarmed Private First Class (PFC) Erwin Salan of the 30th Infantry Battalion was abducted at gunpoint by members of the NPA even while he was wearing civilian clothes.

“We have reported these unfortunate incidents to the Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process,” Arevalo said.

Meantime, the AFP is trying to get information if Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) leader Isnilon Hapilon is already dead.

In a press briefing at Camp Aguinaldo AFP spokesman Air Force Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, said latest intelligence reports reveal the 50-year-old Hapilon remains wounded and needs immediate medical attention.

“The latest report we received showed that the death toll remains at 15 terrorist killed, including an Indonesian terrorist, with eight wounded including Isnilon Hapilon who is included in the high-value individuals which we are after,” Padilla said.

Padilla said they expect more casualties to come from the the Abu Sayyaf, Maute Group including foreign terrorist said to be with the two groups as the operation in Butig continues. (FRANCIS T. WAKEFIELD)