Agusan police on heightened alert

Subscribe Now July 30, 2011 at 10:22pm

Police forces in Caraga region were placed on heightened alert status following a surprise attack staged by communist rebels Saturday in a police station in Agusan del Sur. The attack, which occurred around 5:45 a.m. Saturday at Trento town police station, left two civilians dead and two policemen wounded.

The fatalities, who were hit by stray bullets, were identified as Salvador Ralla Jr. and Virgilio Perocho. The wounded policemen, on the other hand, were brought to nearby Trento hospital for medical treatment.

Military reports said the firefight lasted for an hour. The fully-armed rebels, numbering to more than 60, withdrew toward Barangay New Visayas in Trento, leaving behind two forward trucks and one public utility van they used in the attack. The vehicles were abandoned at the nearby Trento municipal hall.

A separate report said the blocking force of nearby Veruela municipal police station also encountered the fleeing communist insurgents, but no reported casualties on both sides.

Colonel Romeo R. Gan, commanding officer of the 401st Infantry, said hot pursuit operations continue as the attackers were spotted running in the mountainous area of New Visayas.

He said the fleeing communist insurgents were combined forces of the New People's Army's (NPA) Front Committees 3 and 20.

Gan believes that some of the fleeing rebels were also wounded as seen from the blood stains along their escape route.

To beef up security forces in the area, Chief Superintendent Reynaldo Rafal, regional director of Police Regional Office in Caraga, deployed Saturday the 13th and provincial mobile forces to Trento and Veruela towns as wide pursuit operations continue.

He ordered all chiefs of police to spread all over region, particularly in Agusan del Sur, to strengthen their respective defense stations.

Mobile checkpoints along the boundary of Trento town and Bislig City and Trento, Monkayo, Compostela Valley boundary were also established in an effort to block the attackers.

Aside from the police forces, combat maneuvering battalions of the Army's 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division and 10th Infantry (Agila) Division were also mobilized to assist in the pursuit operations.

Gunship helicopters of the Philippine Air Force's Strike and Helicopter Wing were sent to extend air cover to the pursuing ground forces.

The attack Saturday came just two days after an encounter in Panabo City, Davao del Norte that wounded a 60-year-old woman and a soldier.

Major Jake Obligado of the Army's 10th Civil Military Operations Battalion identified the wounded in Thursday's encounter between government troops and NPA rebels as Salud Valiente and a certain Private First Class Cornelio.

Obligado said that around 8:15 p.m. of July 28, an undetermined number of communist rebels harassed the headquarters of the Army's 69th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Dalisay, Panabo City.

"The troops returned fire and successfully defended their position, prompting the NPAs (New People's Army rebels) to withdraw after about 30 minutes of firefight," Obligado said.

Veliente was brought to Rivera Hospital in Panabo while the wounded soldier was treated at the battalion headquarter. Both sustained slight wounds from shrapnel.


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