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6 soldiers injured in landmine blast

By FRANCIS T. WAKEFIELD

Six Army soldiers, including an officer, were injured in an explosion in Magpet, North Cotabato Thursday.

The military identified the victims as 2nd Lt. Rustine Barco, Corporals Ronnie Gutierrez, Roldan Parcon, and Shanon Obaldo, and Privates Rolando Bublao and Dennis Andol.

Lt. Colonel Randy Llunar, Army 19th Infantry Battalion commander, said the soldiers were returning to the provincial capitol in Amas, Kidapawan City from a medical and dental mission in Barangay Binay, Magpet at past 1 p.m. when a landmine exploded on a dirt road in Purok 1, Barangay Doles.

Llunar said after the explosion, a band of New People’s Army rebels positioned on both sides of the road opened fire, triggering a brief firefight. He said the town police, led by Senior Insp. Jose Mari Molina, immediately reinforced the soldiers.

The injured were taken to the Madonna Hospital in Kidapawan.

The 19th IB has launched a manhunt against the band of NPA responsible for the explosion. Llunar said the manhunt is ongoing in the hinterlands of Magpet, an upland town considered as a hotbed of communist insurgency.

The military and the provincial government of North Cotabato strongly condemned the attack on the medical team whose only purpose is to deliver basic social services to the people.

“The provincial government of North Cotabato strongly condemns this terroristic attack on the medical team whose only purpose is to deliver basic social services to the people,” North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Mendoza said.

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