Several high-powered firearms and an explosive were recovered when elements of the Philippine Army (PA) encountered suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Flora, Apayao over the weekend, the military bared Monday.
Lt. Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr., commander of Northern Luzon Command (NoLCom), said that the first encounter transpired in Barangay Mallig around 10 a.m. Sunday after members of the 17th Infantry Battalion clashed with an undetermined number of armed men.
The soldiers were conducting a focused military operation when they were fired upon by the unidentified men, he said.
The skirmish lasted for about 15 minutes until the enemies were forced to withdraw, leaving behind two M16 rifles and an improvised explosive device (IED).
The troops immediately conducted a pursuit operation which triggered a second, more intense firefight at 1 p.m. on the same day.
After about three hours of tracking the enemies, members of the Scout Platoon of the 17th Infantry Battalion were met with gunfire while they were scouring the mountains in Barangay Upper Atok.
The troops retaliated and asked for back-up. The firefight lasted for an hour until the enemies fled, abandoning an M16 rifle, an M653 rifle, and other war material.
Burgos said that the troops did not suffer a casualty from the two encounters.
Meanwhile, he said the rebel groups were presumed to have suffered “numerous” casualties as bloodstains were seen by the pursuing troops along the enemies’ route of withdrawal. (Martin Sadongdong)