Two suspected New People’s Army (NPA) members were killed while seven soldiers and two civilians were injured in a clash in Maco, Compostela Valley, on Sunday, the military said.

The clash started around 12 noon, when about 60 fully-armed rebels attacked 13 members of the 71st Infantry Battalion in Brgy. Calabcab, Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza, spokesman of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said.

The soldiers, comprised of an officer and 12 enlisted personnel, were conducting a “peace and development program” in the barangay when the rebels came, he said.

“Di naman agad nakaganti mga tropa kasi may mga sibilyan,” Paniza said, adding that the outnumbered soldiers called for air support.

An MG-520 helicopter eventually arrived at the scene three hours later, forcing the rebels to retreat. “Sabi nga ng mga sibilyan, kung di pa dumating helicopter, di pa sila inalisan [ng mga rebelde],” Paniza said.

Two civilians, identified as Grace Maliza and Adela Madanlo were injured in the rebel attack and brought by relatives to the Davao Regional Hospital in Tagum City, Davao del Norte.

During the attack, the 22-year-old Maliza reportedly urged the rebels not to fire at civilians. “Sumigaw siya, ‘Wag nyo kaming paputukan, sibilyan kami,’ pero pinaputukan pa rin, tinamaan siya ng bala sa kamay,” Paniza said.

Madanlo, 46, suffered shrapnel wounds on her feet after a grenade thrown by the rebels exploded, according to the regional military spokesman.

Paniza identified the injured soldiers as Sgt. Marlon Parong, Cpl. Romualdo Tangonan, Pfc. Erwin Manabat, Pfc. Rocky Molina, Pfc. Jaypee Sionillo, Pfc. Carmelo Cachuela, and Pfc. Ludivico Elegio Jr.

All were brought to the station hospital in Camp Panacan, Davao City, except one, who was brought to the Southern Philippines Medical Center because of a bullet wound to the head, he said.

Troops, meanwhile, recovered two slain rebels’ remains, an M16 rifle, M14 rifle, five landmines, two M203 grenade launcher ammunition, two fragmentation grenades, and 13 rifle magazines while scouring the encounter site, Paniza said. (John Roson)

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