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CAGAYAN DE ORO — The military has revised its narrative on the death toll in clashes with the New People’s Army (NPA) in Butuan City, Misamis Oriental, and Bukidnon last week, claiming that seven alleged rebels, five of them women, have been killed since June 16, 2023
“The body count in the encounter in Butuan City last Friday (June 16) was raised from three to five. The soldiers also found one more AK 47 rifle,” Major Francisco Garello Jr., spokesperson of the Army 4th Infantry Division (4ID), said.
According to Garello, soldiers seized 20 high-powered firearms — seven AK 47 rifles, four M4 rifles, four AR 18 rifles, an M16 rifle, two M14 rifles, and two M16 with attached M203 grenade launchers, in the three encounter sites – 16 in Butuan, three in Bukidnon and one in Misamis Oriental.
Maj. General Jose Maria Cuerpo, 4ID commanding general said soldiers of the 29th Infantry Battalion supported by Philippine Air Force Turkish-made T129B attack helicopters killed three rebels, two of them women, in Mt. Apo-Apo in Sitio Dugyanan, Barangay Anticala in Butuan City last Friday.
It was the first time that the T129B attack helicopters purchased by the Philippine government for US$269 million in a government-to-government contract with Turkey, was reported to have been used in operations against the NPA.
Garello said soldiers on Saturday found two more bodies of NPA rebels — a female and a male – from the June 16 encounter site in Butuan.
“This raised the body count from three to five NPA rebels killed in the encounter last Friday. The soldiers also found one more AK 47 rifle bringing the total number of firearms recovered to 16,” Garello said.
He said the bodies of the three female NPA rebels and two of their male companions would be brought down from the mountains by Monday.
In Bukidnon province, Brigadier General Michele Anayron, commanding general of the 403rd Infantry Brigade said soldiers encountered at least 15 NPA rebels in Sitio Malinao, Barangay Kalasungay, Malaybalay City on Saturday, following a tip from residents.
Anayron said a female NPA was killed after a 15-minute encounter with the soldiers of the 8th Infantry Battalion. He said the soldiers suffered no casualties.
Recovered from the encounter site were an AK 47 rifle, an M14 rifle, and an improvised anti-personnel landmine, he said.
In Misamis Oriental, one female rebel was killed and an AK 47 rifle was recovered after an encounter with soldiers in Sitio Kalhaan, Barangay Minalwang, Claveria town Friday afternoon. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)