LUCENA CITY - An Army soldier and four suspected New People's Army (NPA) rebels were killed when communist rebels tried to ambush a group of soldiers and policemen in Cawayan, Masbate, on Monday afternoon, a military spokesman said.
Three soldiers were also wounded during the 15-minute gun battle, according to Major Angelo Guzman, spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Southern Luzon Command (Solcom), in a statement Tuesday.
Guzman, quoting a report from Colonel Cesar Idio, commander of the Army's 903rd Infantry Brigade, said soldiers and policemen aboard two civilian trucks were traversing Barangay (village) Tuburan in Cawayan when they were fired upon by about 20 rebels at around 4:30 p.m.
Government forces were able return fire and killed four of their attackers, Guzman said.
Guzman identified the slain soldier as Sergeant Fernando Leynes Jr.
The bodies of the slain rebels were brought to Uson town and were turned over to local police station for identification.
The soldiers who suffered slight gunshot wounds in the arms and legs were identified as Sergeant Pedro Umandap, Corporal Ian Abonia and Corporal Rolly Razalo.
Hours prior to the ambush, a joint Army and police team arrested two suspected NPA rebels in Barangay Libas, also in Cawayan. Guzman said a concerned citizen tipped off the presence of the armed rebels in the area.
He said government forces recovered an M16 rifle, 500 rounds of M16 ammunition, an improvised explosive device, a laptop and communist documents from the clash site.