DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 30, 2008) – Suspected New People’s Army rebels ambushed a military truck transporting soldiers in North Cotabato province, wounding an officer and an infantryman, a military report said on Tuesday.
The report said the attack occurred near the village of Arakan town on Monday and sparked a fire fight between communist rebels and government troops. The wounded soldiers – a lieutenant and a corporal – were rushed to hospital in Davao City.
It said the soldiers, who belong to the 57th Infantry Battalion, were pursuing a band of rebels who attacked a banana plantation in Paquibato district in the outskirts of Davao City when NPA forces attacked them with automatic weapons.
The military said an undetermined number of rebels were either killed or wounded in the fighting.
The ambush came a day after communist rebels said they would free a Special Forces commander First Lieutenant Vicente Cammayo held as prisoner of war since last month in Mindanao.
The NPA said the release of Cammayo was a gesture of goodwill. Cammayo was captured Nov. 7 after rebel forces attacked his unit and killed two soldiers and a government militia in a fierce firefight in Casoon village in the town of Monkayo in Compostela Valley province.
The rebels also seized an M60 machine gun and two M16 and one M14 automatic rifles from Cammayo's unit during the fighting.
The rebels earlier freed a captured policeman Eduardo Tumol, who was also seized Nov. 5 at a checkpoint in the village of Baogo in Davao Oriental's Caraga town.
"POW Cammayo's release is an act of goodwill on account of the continuing celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines. The decision is also anchored on humanitarian grounds," said Rigoberto Sanchez, a rebel spokesman.
Sanchez said Cammayo, commander of the 11th Company of the Army's 3rd Special Forces, would be released next week. But he warned that the NPA could suspend the release of Cammayo if military forces continue its operations that would endanger the safety of the prisoner.
The NPA, armed wing of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines, is fighting the government the past four decades for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. Peace talks between Manila and the CPP-NPA collapsed in 2004 after both sides failed to sign an agreement ending hostilities in the countryside. (Mindanao Examiner)