MANILA (UPDATE) – At least nine soldiers and two suspected New People's Army (NPA) rebels were killed in a series of clashes between government and rebel forces in Matanao, Davao del Sur on Monday.
Senior Superintendent Ronaldo Llanera, Davao Sur police provincial director, said some 100 NPA rebels attacked the town's police station at around 4:30 a.m., resulting in a gunbattle.
Two policemen, identified as SPO3 Manolo Booc and SPO3 Danny Mualang, died in the clash. Three others were injured.
Llanera said police and military forces in the town are now on full alert. At least nine suspected NPA rebels were arrested during a pursuit operation by joint police and military forces.
A separate report from Capt. Ernest Carolina, spokesperson of the Philippine Army's of 10th Infantry Division, said seven soldiers were killed and eight others were injured in a landmine attack in Sitio Lahak, Barangay Asbang at around 7 a.m.
Carolina said the soldiers were pursuing NPA rebels who had just fired shots at a military detachment when the truck carrying them was hit by the landmine explosion.
Two suspected NPA rebels were killed by government soldiers during the gunbattle.
Llanera believes today's attacks are meant to divert the attention of government forces conducting continuous operations against the communis rebels.
"Probable na target ang police stations para ma-divert ang attention ng mga operating units na oatuloy pa rin nagko-conduct ng operation sa Bansalan area," Llanera told ANC.
Due to the incident, Matanao Mayor Butch Fernandez ordered the suspension of classes in all levels and work in the town. – with a report from May May Benedicto, dzMM