DAVAO – A landmine planted on the side of the road in Sitio Opaw, Talaingod, Davao del Norte exploded while a convoy of police, Army, local government unit personnel, and an ABS-CBN News team were passing through the area.
After the explosion, suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) fired at the convoy, prompting authorities to return fire. No one was reported injured.
Authorities said suspected rebels may have planted the landmine.
The convoy came from a medical outreach and relief operation in Sitio Nasilaban, Barangay Palma Gil, Talaingod, Davao del Norte.
Police and Army recovered an electric wire used in the improvised explosive device during clearing operations.
Sr. Insp. Michael Angelo Yap, chief of the Talaingod police, said they saw two armed men exchanging gunfire with them.
"Dalawang armado ng mahahaba. Di naming alam kung may kasama sila, kaya nag-return fire kami kung saan sila," Yap said.
According to 1st Lt. Charity Talledo, commander of the 3rd CIC, 1003rd Opcon, the incident was a violation of the CAHRIHL or the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect to Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.
"Kahit sibilyan, sundalo o media pa maging target na nila," she said.
Meanwhile, residents in the area feared for their lives during the incident.
“Tumakbo kami para magtago at nanalangin na hindi madamay,” Maricar Salvaha, a local, said.
Authorities are conducting a hot pursuit operation against the armed men, who are suspected members of the NPA Guerilla Front 55 led by Alias Bugsong. - report from Claire Cornelio, ABS-CBN News