Blast injures 4 in Bukidnon

At least four soldiers were injured after the New People’s Army rebels detonated an improvised explosive device they had planted along a road in Barangay Pagan, Kitaokitao, Bukidnon on Sunday morning.

Captain Alberto Caber, public affairs chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), said Monday that the explosion followed a brief firefight.

Caber identified the wounded soldiers in the explosion as Second Lieutenant Noel Manalang, Sergeant Ruel Lavalle, Private First Class Abdurasan Ibnomusa, PFC Ravi Pamalison, and PFC Marvin Dancel, all members of the 8th Infantry Battalion.

Caber said the soldiers were pursuing a group of rebels at around   8:20 a.m.   when a blocking force hit them with the bomb explosion.

“The soldiers were on pursuit operations against members of the Guerrilla Front 53 of the NPA’s Southern Mindanao Regional Committee who are responsible in the aborted liquidation attempt of White Kulaman barangay chairman Felipe S. Cabugnason, the other day,” Caber said.

Cabugnason was among three Manobo persons brought to Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City last week to meet the press where they denied military participations in the spate of lumad killings in Caraga region.

Karapatan, a human rights organization, and Surigao del Sur Gov. Johnny Pimentel have tagged the military as behind the formation and arming of the Magahat-Bagani militia to kill their fellow tribesmen who were suspected to be sympathizers and supporters of the NPA.

Caber said they considered Cabugnason a “liberator” from NPA influence in his barangay. Since then,  the NPA had allegedly targeted him for liquidation.

The Commission on Human Rights has debunked the military claim of “tribal war” as the reason behind the killings against indigenous people fighting against mining giants and expansion of palm tree plantations inside their ancestral domains.

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