AGUSAN DEL SUR, Philippines - A government trooper was killed while 3 others were hurt in a clash between the military and communist New People's Army (NPA) rebels in Esperanza town, Agusan del Sur province on Thursday morning.
Members of the 5th Scout Ranger Company engaged the rebels belonging to the NPA's North Central Mindanao command in a gunbattle at Sitio Simontana in Kalabuan village around 11 a.m., according to AFP public affairs office chief Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos.
The rebels, who sustained an undetermined number of casualties, were forced to retreat and abandon their camp, Burgos said.
Twelve high-powered firearms that belonged to the NPA were also recovered in the area. The military has also launched pursuit operations.
"The NPAs encountered by our government troops are under George Madlos, the same person who claimed responsibility of the burning at the three mining firms," Burgos said.
Burgos said the clash occurred after Armed Forces chief Gen. Eduardo Oban ordered government troops to go after NPA rebels who attacked mining companies in Claver town, Surigao del Norte, last Monday.
"Today, we had a result. We overran a camp of the NPAs and the are on the run…This is part of the operations that we are conducting against those who burned the mining firms," he added.
Meanwhile, the military has deployed soldiers in strategic parts of Surigao del Norte to prevent a repeat of the NPA attacks on the mining companies, according to Major Eugenio Julio Osias, spokesman of the Army's 4th Infantry Division.
"We have secured the highways and main roads. Our troops are also securing key positions uphill," he said.
He added that the Philippine National Police's Special Action Force has been tapped to protest mining areas and compounds.
"The police have other contingency measures," Osias said. "The Army and the PNP are also discussing with the chief security of the mining firms the best course of actions to take."