9 NPA rebels killed in Christmas Day confrontation

Nine New People’s Army rebels were killed in a fierce battle with the military on Christmas Day in the hinterlands of Malaybalay City, Bukidnon. The Philippine Army 4th Infantry Division reported that three of the casualties were female members of the rebel group, but their identities are still unknown.

According to the 4th ID, the encounter occurred as a result of a significant presence of communist rebels from the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee. Ground forces requested close air support from the Tactical Operations Group 10 of the Philippine Air Force and artillery fire support from the 4th and 10th Field Artillery Battalions.

Brig. Gen. Michele Anayron Jr., 403rd Brigade commander, explained that the additional support was utilized to protect their forces and minimize casualties, while ensuring the safety of the local communities and avoiding damage to properties.

The encounter took place despite the Communist Party of the Philippines declaring a two-day unilateral ceasefire to celebrate their 55th anniversary. However, the government did not reciprocate the ceasefire, as it aimed to resume peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to end the longtime insurgency.

Major Gen. Jose Maria Cuerpo II, the commander of the 4th ID, emphasized the military’s commitment to keeping communities safe and ending the communist armed conflict, despite the ceasefire declaration. He highlighted the joint operations carried out in Bukidnon with precision and adherence to safety protocols.

In addition to the casualties, government troops recovered several firearms and a hand grenade from the site of the encounter. As of now, the identities of the deceased rebels have not been confirmed, and the bodies have yet to be retrieved from the hinterlands.

The United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines have designated the CPP-NPA as a terrorist group. The National Democratic Front was also formally labeled as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council in 2021 for its close association with the CPP-NPA.

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