Hundreds evacuate as army, rebels clash in NoCot

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ARAKAN, North Cotabato (April 24) — Hundreds of residents evacuate as firefight between government soldiers and communist New People’s Army rebels clashed in Sitio Tiwayan in Barangay Badiang, situated in the border of Antipas and Magpet towns, Tuesday at about 9:00 in the morning, April 23.

The firefight between elements of the Army’s 19th Infantry Battalion and communist rebels also left two soldiers and a civilian slightly wounded.

The soldiers were on focused operation when they encountered a group of rebels which triggered the firefight.

Captain Jose Marie Molina, the Arakan town police chief, identified the wounded soldiers as Corporals William Agno, and Jerome Sarayno, they were airlifted by Huey helicopters from the battlefront to a local hospital.

A farmer Jonel Bayaan, was hit by stray bullets when the firefight erupted, he is now confined at the Amas provincial hospital in Kidapawan City.

Colonel Benjie Dao-on, commander of the 19th Infantry Battalion said the rebels also ambushed rescue vehicle which carried the wounded soldiers in Sitio Anuling, Barangay Badiangon at about 9:30 a.m. which triggered another firefight.

Bloodstains along the rebels escape route prove that the rebel groups suffered heavy casualties, Molina theorized.

The municipal Social Welfare and Development have distributed emergency relief assistance and foodstuff to the affected families.

“The total number of displaced families is still being validated,” he said, adding that sporadic fighting continued overnight in the periphery of Arakan and Magpet.

Under election laws, the local government could not extend relief assistance to displaced families during the campaign period for May 13 mid-term polls.

North Cotabato police spokesperson, Lt. Col. Bernard Tayong, said the police across the province have been placed on heightened alert for possible diversionary attacks by the communist rebels.-Editha Z. Caduaya/NewsLine.ph

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