Four suspected New People’s Army (NPA) members and a militiaman were killed when government troops clashed with members of the rebel group who attacked their detachment in Magsaysay, Davao del Sur, the military reported Thursday.

Soldiers recovered the bodies of two slain rebels while two more were reported by local residents, Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza, spokesman of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said in a statement.

Killed on the government side was Leonardo Cainglet, of the Civilian Active Auxiliary, while fellow militiaman Dionato Obias was slightly wounded, Paniza said.

According to the official, about 30 rebels on a commandeered truck stormed the Talusob Detachment in Brgy. Bacungan around 1:45 p.m. Wednesday, prompting the eight-man team of militiamen left on duty to retaliate.

“May fiesta sa barangay na ‘to, yung mga NPA sakay ng isang truck nagpanggap na makiki-fiesta, ‘yung truck may tolda para di sila makita. Diniretso nila yung truck sa may tapat ng detachment at pinaulanan nila ng bala,” Paniza told reporters by phone.

The attackers might have presumed that the detachment was left unguarded because half of its force was deployed to secure the fiesta, according to the regional military spokesman.

“Ang hindi nila (rebels) alam nakaalerto tayo para dun, akala nila kaya nila pero lumaban ‘yung mga tao natin dun kaya sila ang nalagasan,” he said, adding that the firefight lasted for 45 minutes.

After the attack, the rebels withdrew and abducted five residents of the adjacent Brgy. San Miguel, who they used as “human shields” and ordered to carry wounded comrades, according to Paniza.

Aside from Vicente Bunal, Jolly Paimalan, Elmer Entes, Rhyan Banua, and Pablo Butaya, the rebels also took the horse of another resident and used it as carrier, he said.

Troops, meanwhile, found at the encounter site an M14 rifle, 12-gauge shotgun, fragmentation grenade, assorted ammunitions, and 20 backpacks. (John Roson)

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