Communists allege 14 soldiers killed in northern Mindanao; AFP says one dead
Communist rebels on Monday claimed a total of 14 soldiers were killed in more than two weeks of all-out military offensive and massive bombing in northern Mindanao.
In a statement, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) suffered at least 14 casualties in more than two weeks of all-out military offensive and massive bombardment at the height of preparations for Christmas and New Year holidays in the boundaries of Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon and Agusan del Sur provinces, according to initial reports from field commands of the New People's Army.
"After declaring it will not observe a ceasefire this holiday season, the AFP ordered its forces to go on an all-out offensive and massive bombardment in the vain hope of stopping the people to gather in the NPA guerrilla zones to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)," said the CPP.
"By mounting non-stop combat operations and incessant shelling and bombing, however, the AFP is spoiling the peace and holiday preparations of the residents in the community. Also, they have doused on the high hopes of their foot soldiers to have a brief respite during the holidays to be with their families," it added.
But 4th Infantry Division Major Gen. Ronald Villanueva belied this report and said it's only "propaganda".
"Sorry, but we only have one casualty last December 13 in the boundaries of Bukidnon and Esperanza, Agusan del Sur. It is ok if they (think) that we have more casualties..It is propaganda anyway..We are more on the truth versus propaganda," Villanueva said in a message.
According to NPA-Northcentral Mindanao spokesman Malem Mabini, they are on active defense posture.
On December 6, an encounter broke out in Barangay Minalwang, while three other encounters happened in Barangay Mahagwa on December 7, 8 and 13, the CPP said.
The CPP, based on reports of local residents, said the AFP brought out two cadavers in Barangay Jagpa on December 7, 2018. At midnight, several ambulances entered Barangay Calabugao to pick up at least 12 wounded soldiers.
Rebels said from December 2 to December 14, the AFP mobilized more than 400 combat troops from the 8th Infantry Battalion (IB), the 58th IB, Charlie Company of the 4th ID, the 4th Division Reconnaisance Company, the Special Action Forces, Scout Rangers at local CAFGU units. At least 43 6x6 military trucks roared into rural villages to transport enemy soldiers into the battle zone.
Soldiers pounded the area with at least 14 rounds of artillery from 105 howitzers on the evening of December 7, 11 rounds on December 8, scores of rockets from MD-520, 15 rounds of artillery on December 12, 11 rounds of artillery on the evening of December 13, and scores of rockets fired from attack helicopters from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on December 16, the CPP statement said. Ella Dionisio/DMS