Communist rebels abducted the mayor of Lingig, Surigao del Sur, and his two bodyguards early Saturday then staged an ambush that left one dead and at least five wounded among pursuing government troops, police and military officials said.

About 30 New People’s Army (NPA) members took Mayor Henry Dano and his two Army escorts from his home in Brgy. Sabangan around 6:30 a.m., Caraga regional police director Chief Supt. Reynaldo Rafal said.

The rebels, who pretended to be National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents by wearing barongs and camouflage uniforms, took Dano and his escorts on board three vans then headed towards Boston, Davao Oriental, according to the police official.

“Dalawa ‘yung naka-barong, sa likod naman nila may mga nakasuot na Army uniform, approximately 30 sila kasi tatlong van ‘yung sinakyan,” Rafal said in a phone interview.

Members of the Army 75th Infantry Battalion were sent to help policemen pursue the abductors, but were ambushed along the way, the police official added.

Lieutenant Col. Ruben Agarcio, the 75th IB commander, and his men were passing through Sitio Mahogany, Brgy. Pagbakatan, on board a Galloper and Humvee with a caliber-.50 machine gun around 8:50 a.m., when they were ambushed by an undetermined number of rebels, a report from another Army unit stated.

Killed in the attack was Pfc. Wenceslao Pena while those injured were identified as Sgt. Porras, Pfc. Pirote, Pfc. Castanares, Pvt. Laydan, Pvt. Valencia, and a militiaman identitied only as Balingan.

“We think blocking (force) ‘yung nang-ambush, usually nagba-blocking force sila,” Maj. Eugenio Osias, spokesman of the Army 4th Infantry Division, said.

Meanwhile, Rafal said investigators are still trying to determine what motivated the rebels to abduct Dano.

“Being a mayor, we can only suppose that it is because he is a supporter of the government, but as for the specific reason, we still have to know those,” Rafal said.

The abductors have yet to contact Dano’s family or the crisis management committee led by Surigao del Sur Gov. Johnny Pimentel as of Saturday noon. (John Roson)

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