Army, NPA rebels clash in Agusan Norte amid ceasefire

The encounter in Jabonga was the first reported clash between government security forces and the NPA in Caraga since the separate declaration by the Duterte administration and communist rebels of a truce to allow unimpeded delivery of relief measures for COVID-19.  PHOTO/ Surigao CityPulis

Government troopers clashed with suspected members of the communist New People’s Army in the hinterlands of Jabonga town in Agusan del Norte on Monday (April 13) in yet another sign that a truce declared separately by the warring sides is barely holding.

Lt. Col. Isagani Criste, commanding officer of the 29th Infantry Battalion, said soldiers under his command were on “active defense” foot patrol in Barangay Cuyago at past 11 a.m. when they were fired upon by suspected NPA rebels under the Guerrilla Front 16, which is said to be led by a certain Ka Albren.

Before the encounter, Criste said, villagers tipped off the patrolling soldiers about the presence of at least 18 NPA guerillas who were allegedly extorting from the people.

“This incident only proves that the NPAs are liars and that they cannot be trusted. They want to appear as good, helpful and patriotic to gain people’s trust that is why they declared the unilateral ceasefire. But as we saw, it was them who broke their word,” Criste said in a statement.

No casualties were reported on the government side while the NPA rebels are believed to have suffered casualties as evidenced by bloodstains found in the enemy’s escape route, Criste added.

The government forces also recovered four rolls of detonating cords, and three magazines for AK-47 with 30 serviceable ammunition.

The encounter was the first reported clash between government security forces and the NPA in Caraga since the separate declaration by the Duterte administration and communist rebels of a truce to allow unimpeded delivery of relief measures for COVID-19. CLC

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