(Update) New People’s Army (NPA) members attacked a mine site in Rosario, Agusan del Sur, early Thursday and held the employees hostage for several hours, authorities said.

About 30 fully-armed rebels entered the VTO Mining compound in Ridge Mountain, Purok 11, Brgy. Bayugan 3, around 5 a.m., disarmed the security guards, ransacked the office, before holding the employees hostage, Army 4th Infantry Division spokesman Maj. Eugenio Osias said in a briefing.

The rebels, led by Renato Sayasat alias Commander Friday of the NPA’s Section Committee 14, released some hostages after a few hours but held on to Christopher Ocite, operations manager of the mine site and son of owner Engr. Vivencio Ocite, as well as other employees.

The raiders left the mine site around 3 p.m., bringing with them the remaining hostages, Osias told reporters.

“They demanded K3 sub-machine guns and M16 rifles in exchange for the hostages’ release,” he said.

Aside from the younger Ocite, the rebels also took assistant operations manager Gani Altaya, security guard Joel Jayuma, and an unidentified engineer, Caraga regional police spokesman Supt. Martin Gamba said.

The rebels, who had disguised themselves as soldiers, also seized five shotguns and nine caliber-.45 pistols and used Ocite’s gray pick-up (ZMW-908) as getaway vehicle, Gamba said.

At the height of the hostage-taking, members of the Army’s 75th Infantry Battalion and 4th Armor Combat Team were sent to cordon the area while members of Rosario’s crisis management committee convened.

It was not immediately known if the rebels were allowed to leave, Osias said. (John Roson)

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