Three soldiers got killed when suspected New People’s Army (NPA) members detonated a landmine near a military detachment in Davao City early Tuesday.

Lieutenant Col. Lyndon Paniza, Army 10th Infantry Division spokesman, said members of the 69th Infantry Battalion had just left their patrol base in in Brgy. Guinobatan, Paquibato district, around 8:30 a.m. when the landmine exploded.

“They (soldiers) were on foot, going to a community outreach program. The landmine was placed along the road which civilians also use,” Paniza said in a phone interview.

The explosion, which happened just 300 to 400 meters away from the patrol base, instantly killed three soldiers while the other troopers returned fire, Paniza said.

“The use of any type of landmine is a violation of the CARHIHL (Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law),” he said.

Paniza declined to name the fatalities, saying their families have yet to be informed.

Col. Leopoldo Galon, Armed Forces Eastern Mindanao Command spokesman, said the attackers are believed to be followers of known NPA leader Leoncio Pitao alias commander Parago.

The putting up of the military patrol base in Guinobatan has been protested by human rights watchdog Karapatan, which claimed that the move will only “cause trouble” in the area, Paniza said.

“Karapatan requested the removal of the detachment, ang sabi nila magiging magulo lang ‘yung area. But Mayor Sarah Duterte did not concede kasi may mga development projects doon na kailangang i-secure, walang contractor na gustong umakyat dahil hinihingan sila ng pera o sinusunugan ng equipment,” Paniza said. (John Roson)

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