One soldier was killed as troops clashed with suspected New People’s Army (NPA) members in Miag-ao, Iloilo, on Monday, amid the government ceasefire, a military spokesman said.

The clash occurred in Sitio Anoy, Brgy. Cabalaunan, around 10:40 a.m., Maj. Enrico Ileto, spokesman of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, said in a phone interview.

Troops were patrolling to prevent a reported plan by the NPA to attack a militia detachment when they were suddenly fired upon, Ileto said.

The troops retaliated but the suspected rebels had the better position and thus inflicted a casualty on the government side, he said.

Maj. Gen. Jose Mabanta, commander of the 3rd ID, said pursuit was launched after the incident as part of “defensive security operations.”

The Armed Forces said started its suspension of military offensive (SOMO) against the NPA on Sunday and will implement it until Jan. 2.

The suspension, however, does not cover security patrols, checkpoints, and pursuit against attackers.

“We will continue to observe the SOMO. The Army’s commitment to peace will always be present especially during this Christmas season. Communities should be given the opportunity to celebrate the yuletide peacefully,” Mabanta said in a statement. (John Roson)

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