Two soldiers were killed as government troops clashed with New People’s Army (NPA) members in Esperanza, Agusan del Sur, on Saturday, just a few days after the rebel group carried out an attack that left five civilians dead in the same town.

Lt. Col. Leo Bongosia, spokesman of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said the clash occurred in Brgy. Maliwanag around 4 p.m.

Members of the 26th Infantry Battalion encountered about 15 rebels and the firefight lasted for about 15 minutes, Bongosia said in a text message.

The clash came just four days after NPA members killed five civilian workers and burned several heavy equipment of agro-industrial firm Shannalyne Corp. in Brgy. Hawilian on Tuesday.

The NPA claims that the attack was punishment for Shannalyne’s “land-grabbing” and “environmentally-destructive activities,” while the military says the incident stemmed from the company’s refusal to give in to the rebel group’s “extortion.”

Pursuit against those who attacked are still ongoing despite Saturday’s deadly clash, Bongosia said. (John Roson)

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