COTABATO - Three suspected communist rebels and a member of the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) died in a 5-hour firefight in Makilala town around Monday midnight.
Lt. Col. Rhojun Rosales, commander of the 39th Infantry Battalion, said the attack in Barangay Luayon was allegedly led by the Guerrilla Front 72 of the New People's Army (NPA).
"Ang intensyon talaga nila is bulabugin yung fiesta dito sa poblacion. Marami 'yung puwersa natin kaya siguro hindi nila ma-execute, kaya doon na lang sa peripheries ng bayan, " he said.
Seven CAFGU members were also wounded in the firefight.
Rosales added that during the firefight, the armed men prohibited residents in the area from leaving their homes, and civilians were allegedly used as human shields.
He said, Guerrilla Front 72 operates in Makilala and nearby towns, including Tulunan, North Cotabato and Magsaysay, Davao del Sur.
A clearing operation in the area was ongoing, as of posting.