MANILA (UPDATED) – Nine soldiers, including three CAFGUs, were killed in separate landmine attacks allegedly perpetrated by the New People's Army (NPA) in Tulunan, North Cotabao on Monday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said.
A report by the AFP on its website said the first landmine attack occurred at the boundary of Barangays Caridad and Bituan at around 9:20 a.m.
Eight government troops were killed and one wounded in the ensuing gunbattle with alleged NPA rebels.
The attack happened as troops from the 38th Infantry Battalion were on administrative duty delivering subsistence allowance to auxiliary forces.
"Brutal talaga yung pagkamatay nila, basag ang mga bungo, yung iba tadtad ng bala, pinagbabaril ng malapitan para masigurong patay talaga,"
Tulunan chief of police Senior Inspector Ronnie Cordero said.
The gunmen took away the victims' cash and firearms, police said.
Those killed soldiers in the first attack were:
1. SSgt. Joel Hadlucon
2. Sgt. Jovencio Ocho
3. Cpl. Thong Bansuan
4. Cpl. Razzel Baylon
5. Sgt. Herames
6. CAA Jonell Tundocan
7. CAA Reynaldo Ballesteros
8. CAA Melquides Butaslac Jr.
Only their commanding officer, Capt. Ernesto Aguilar, and one CAGFU militiaman survived the ambush.
The second attack occurred at 11:25 a.m. when troops under the 57th Infantry Battalion were also hit by a landmine explosion while on their way to Barangay New Caridad, also in Tulunan.
Four were wounded and one killed in the second attack. The fatality was identified as Cpl. Roger Espiritu.
The AFP condemned the latest attack by the communist rebels, saying that by using improvised explosive devices as precursors to ambush, the NPA "continues to violate the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law."
"This also disrespects the strict regulation of IEDs under the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Anti-Personnel Mines (Ottawa Treaty)," the AFP added.
The AFP extended its sympathies to the families of the soldiers killed in the attacks, even as it vowed to pursue the perpetrators.