Four soldiers and a New People’s Army (NPA) member were killed while five other security personnel were injured as the rebel group attacked the police station in Mati City, Davao Oriental, Sunday night, authorities said Monday.

Killed were Pfc. Daniel Damansila Jr., Pvt. Ryan Amigo, Pfc. Wil Christian Resuelo, Sgt. Adel Lucanan, and a still unidentified NPA member, said Colonel Romeo Brawner, spokesman of the Armed Forces’ Eastern Mindanao Command.

Injured were one policeman, Pfc. Virgil Logronio, Pfc. Emerito Castillo, Pfc. Ian Mark Babiera, and Pfc. Zaldy Canonero, Brawner said.

About 50 rebels carried out the attack around 7:30 p.m., he said.

Some of them, who were on an Elf truck, two vans, and five motorcycles, arrived at the police station and fired on it so policemen fought it out with them, Brawner said.

Members of the Davao Oriental provincial police reinforced the police station upon learning the incident, Southern Mindanao regional police spokesman Superintendent Antonio Rivera said.

Troops of the Army’s 701st Brigade on armored personnel carriers also reinforced the policemen and engaged the rebels in a running gun battle, Brawner said.

A policeman was wounded while an NPA member was killed during the clash in Brgy. Poblacion, he said.

Elements of the 104th Division Reconnaissance Company were also sent to join the pursuit, but were landmined around 8 p.m.

Members of that unit were on the way to the clash site when a landmine explosion hit the truck were riding in Sitio Magay, Brgy. Don Martin Marundan, only 300 maters away from the 701st Brigade headquarters, Brawner said.

Two landmines exploded near the brigade headquarters, Rivera said.

Damansila and Amigo died on the spot. Resuelo was initially wounded along with Logronio, Castillo, Babiera, and Canonero, but he expired in the hospital later, Brawner said.

Lucanan, on the other hand, died after being shot at a rebel checkpoint near the Saint Camillus Hospital in Brgy. Matiao.

Lucanan was unarmed and in civilian clothes at the time, but he introduced himself as soldier because the men at the roadblock were in PNP uniforms, Brawner said.

Lieutenant General Aurelio Baladad, commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command, condemned the organized attack, particularly the use of landmines.

He said the attack was meant to embarrass the government since Davao Oriental was already declared “insurgency free” in 2013.

“They (NPA) gathered rebels from other provinces to attack and disrupt the already peaceful lives of the people of Davao Oriental,” Baladad said.

Major General Eduardo Año, commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, called the attack a “desperate move” by the NPA amid developmental programs of Davao Oriental.

“We condemn this attack, which was notably carried out in a populated community… Davao Oriental remains a development-ready province. We will keep it that way,” he added. (John Roson)

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