Five soldiers got killed while two others were injured in attack by New People’s Army (NPA) in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur, on Friday as government troops started implementing a holiday ceasefire.

Major Eugenio Osias, Army 4th Infantry Division spokesman, said the attack occurred around 5 a.m. in Brgy. Mabuhay.

A team of the 36th Infantry Battalion was conducting a “peace and development program” in the area when rebels on an Isuzu Elf truck came and opened fire at the troops.

“Ni-rush up sila (soldiers) habang nandoon sila sa kanilang temporary location at nagko-conduct ng COPD (community organizing for peace and development), pinutukan sila,” Osias said in a phone interview.

Superintendent Martin Gamba, Caraga regional police spokesman, said the troops were at the barangay hall when attacked.

The soldiers fought to repel the rebels and held on to their position as long as they could but were eventually overran, Osias said.

He declined to name the fatalities and injured until their families are informed.

The rebels took from the slain soldiers a K3 squad automatic weapon, an M203 grenade launcher, four M16 rifles, five M14 rifles, a Harris handheld radio, and a Harris man-packed radio.

“We strongly condemn this treacherous act of the NPA against our soldiers after the Armed Forces’ declaration of a temporary ceasefire,” Osias said. (John Roson)

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