[more photos here] (Update) Nine people, including a policeman, were killed while at least six others were injured in an ambush by suspected New People’s Army (NPA) members in La Castellana, Negros Occidental, early Sunday, police said.
Chief Insp. Rico Santotome, provincial police spokesman, said the fatalities include PO1 Richard Canja, assigned at the La Castellana Police Station.
The eight other fatalities were barangay tanods, members of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT), and a tanod’s wife, Santotome, who went to the area after the incident, said in a phone interview.
He identified them as tanods Mario Ricablanca and Tiotimo Esplegera of Brgy. Puso, BPAT members Ulysses Tamayor, Jonathan Mateo and Ramir Complesa, civilians Lito Lucban and Virginia Ordonez, and truck driver Ricky Dingcong.Two other policemen, identified as PO3 Constantino Villegas and PO2 Jeffrey Alvarez, and at least four civilians were injured in the attack and have been brought to hospitals, Santotome said.
The incident occurred around 3:45 a.m. while members of the La Castellana Police, BPAT, tanods, and some of their family members, including children, were passing through a remote area in Brgy. Puso on a Canter truck.
The policemen, tanods, and BPAT members had just finished providing security to the barangay fiesta, Santotome said.
“Nung pinarahan, dun nagstop ‘yung truck, dun nila (armed men) binanatan and then pina-ano pa, finishing, lalo na ‘yung pulis, tinira pa sa ulo para ma-ensure na patay,” Santotome said.
The rebels, who took at least three M16 rifles and three caliber-.45 pistols from the victims, are believed to have withdrawn to neighboring Negros Oriental after the incident.
Provincial police director Senior Supt. Celestino Guara has ordered the Provincial Public Safety Company to pursue the rebels with the help of the Army’s Special Forces and Scout Rangers, Santotome said. (John Roson)
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