Landmine explosion kills soldier, injures 5 others in central Philippines

Jeoffrey Maitem and Richel V. Umel
Davao, Philippines
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Landmine explosion kills soldier, injures 5 others in central Philippines With their faces painted to conceal their identities, members of the New People’s Army communist rebels march with their firearms before a news conference at their guerrilla encampment in the Sierra Madre mountains southeast of Manila, Nov. 23, 2016.
Aaron Favila/AP

A landmine blast killed a soldier and injured five of his companions in the central Philippines on Tuesday, military officials said, blaming the explosion on communist guerrillas who have been waging a 53-year-old insurgency.

Soldiers from the Army’s 20th Infantry Battalion were patrolling in a remote village in Catubig, a town in Northern Samar province, when New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas detonated an anti-personnel mine along the road, said Lt. Col. Joemar Buban, the battalion commander. The NPA is the military wing of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

The midmorning explosion left a soldier dead and injured five others who were among two dozen troops on the patrol mission, Buban said.

“There was a 15-minute clash after the explosion and our troops are still finding casualties from the enemy side. We are sending our air assets to evacuate the blast victims,” Buban said.

The military said the attack was a clear violation of the Ottawa Convention which bans the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel landmines.

Galahad Vicencio, vice mayor of Catubig, condemned the attack, saying the use of landmines violates international laws protecting civilians in times of war.

“It’s time to put an end to the atrocities carried out by the rebels. We condemn the attack,” he said in a statement.

Communist rebels were blamed for a similar landmine attack on July 5 that injured seven troops in the nearby town of Mapanas, also in Northern Samar.

One week later, on July 12, troops attacked and killed three suspected NPA guerrillas.

Previously, two police officers were killed while four soldiers and another officer were injured in a similar attack in April in Las Navas, Northern Samar province.

NPA spokesmen did not immediately respond on Tuesday to a BenarNews request for comment.

The Filipino communist party has been waging Asia’s longest running insurgency, which dates back to 1969. Its guerrilla force is estimated to be about 5,000 and divided among 80 fronts across the Philippine archipelago.

Former President Rodrigo Duterte, once a university student of exiled CPP leader Jose Maria Sison, opened talks with the rebels shortly after he became president in 2016. Duterte ended the talks a year later when he accused the rebels of carrying out attacks despite his peace overtures.


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