MANILA — Four troopers from the Army’s 68th Infantry Battalion were killed along with one New People’s Army (NPA) rebel following an encounter in San Fernando town, Bukidnon province early Wednesday morning.
The encounter stemmed from rebel efforts to torch heavy equipment on an ongoing road construction project around 5:00 a.m. at Sitio Salinguton, Barangay Magkalungay, San Fernando, said 10th Infantry Division spokesperson 1st Lt. Vergel Lacambra.
At the time of the rebel attack, troopers from the 68th Infantry Battalion were on routine security patrol along the Barangay Bacnotan-Halapitan roadnet when informed by concerned civilians of the large NPA presence in the area.
Lacambra said the rebels detonated a landmine after spotting the responding soldiers, triggering a heavy firefight which lasted for 30 minutes.
Four of the heavily outnumbered soldiers and one rebel were killed in the ensuing gun battle.
The names of the fallen soldiers were not revealed pending notification of their next-of-kin.
Lacambra said the NPAs immediately retreated leaving their slain companion. Soldiers recovered one M-653 automatic rifle.
Reinforcing government troopers also recovered dozens of backpacks and other war materiel.
Pursuit operations are ongoing.