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Soldier killed in clash

KIDAPAWAN CITY – A soldier was killed Tuesday when his group clashed with a group of communist guerillas in the hinterlands of Barangay Cabilao in Makilala town in North Cotabato.

1/Lt. Nasrullah Sema, chief civil military operations of the 57th Infantry Battalion, identified the slain trooper as Sgt. Arnold Vigo of Bravo Company of the 57th IB.

Sema said Vigo and his troops were conducting patrol operations in the area after the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) rebels torched the rubber processing plant of the Standard Rubber Development Corporation (Standeco) in nearby Barangay Talun-talunan, also in Makilala, when they encountered the guerillas and engaged them in a firefight that lasted for hours.

Vigo was seriously wounded and expired a few hours later after he was treated at a nearby hospital in Kidapawan City, Sema said.

As this developed some 80 families from four sitios in Barangay Cabilao evacuated to safer areas when government troops and communist guerillas traded fires, around 4:30 p.m., Tuesday.

Of the 80 families, at least 30 were temporarily housed at the barangay hall, while others have sought shelter in their relatives and friends’ homes in the village center, reports said.

Kagawad Armando Laman of Barangay Cabilao said the evacuees come from sitios Lamudon, Eden, Medang, and Badiangon, all hinterland sitios of Barangay Cabilao. Laman said the fighting has caused so much trouble among farmers and rubber tappers in the village.

“Our farmers, who have depended so much on their farm for them to survive, were prevented from tilling their lands because the tension between the AFP and the NPA is still high,” said Laman. (Malu Cadelina Manar)