Large groups of suspected New People’s Army (NPA) members almost simultaneously attacked three mining companies in Claver, Surigao del Norte, on Monday.

About 200 rebels raided Taganito Mining Corp.’s mine site around 10:30 a.m., Caraga regional police director Chief Supt. Reynaldo Rafal said.

“The resident manager, other VIPs and security guards were allegedly taken by the (rebels),” Rafal said in an initial report.

Two of the managers were taken by the rebels into a van and brought them to the company’s project area in Brgy. Hayanggabon, while two trucks were burned, according to the police official.

Around the same time, about 200 fully armed rebels also attacked the Platinum Metals Group Corp. office in Sitio Kinalablaban, Brgy. Cagdianao, disarming security guards, Rafal said.

Around 12:30 p.m., rebels also raided THPAL Mining, Taganito Mining Corp.’s “sister company,” Maj. Eugenio Osias, spokesman of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said in a text message.

Ten dump trucks, eight backhoes, two barges, and Taganito Mining Corp.’s “guest house” were burned, Osias said, citing initial results of the inventory being done on the damage.

Troops sent, rebels block roads

Members of the 13th Regional Public Safety Battalion, Claver Police, and the 4th ID’s Division Reconnaissance Company were deployed to the area while two Huey helicopters took off from Davao City to provide air support to the foot soldiers, Rafal said.

“Nagpunta na ‘yung mga tropa natin… hinarangan ng kalaban ng mga truck yung mga road network papunta doon sa site,” Osias said by phone.

Rebels conducted road blocks at the Baoy Bridge in Brgy. Hayanggabon, the boundary of Claver and Gigaquit; Sitio Capangdan, Brgy. Urbiztondo; and the Claver Public Cemetery.

A team of policemen belonging to the 13th Regional Public Safety Battalion first encountered the rebels at Brgy. Hayanggabon.

Around 12:51 p.m., rebels riding two dump trucks attacked a nearby patrol base of the 13th RPSB, burning a truck of the police unit.

Rebels also “ambushed” Rafal and his men with improvised explosive devices in Kitcharao, Agusan Del Norte, around 4:16 p.m. while the regional police chief was en route to Taganito from Butuan City. No one among them was injured, Caraga regional police spokesman Supt. Martin Gamba said.

Troops of the Philippine Army encountered a group of rebels at Brgy. Cabugo around 4:45 p.m.

Hostages freed, no guards killed

In a phone interview 6 p.m., Rafal said the rebels were holding no more hostages.

“They (seized mine employees) were released,” Rafal said, adding that clearing operations were ongoing as the rebels may have left explosives at the mining companies’ compounds.

Rafal’s office reported that the rebels killed three security guards of Taganito Mining Corp., but later issued a corrected report saying there were no casualties and the guards were all accounted for. (John Roson)

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