Suspected New People’s Army rebels detonated an anti-personnel mine against government troops on Tuesday in Northern Samar, wounding seven soldiers, two of them in critically, military commander said.
Army 8th Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Edgardo de Leon said elements of the 20th Infantry Battalion, who came from a community service mission, were negotiating a trail when the blast occurred.
“Our troops conducted community service, immersion in Mapanas, Northern Samar when they were hit with an anti-personnel mine,” the commander said of the attack, which occurred at around 6:15 a.m. in Barangay Magsaysay, Mapanas.
As a result, seven soldiers, who are all enlisted personnel, were wounded and were evacuated to a hospital in Northern Samar. Two of them were reported to be in critical condition.
“Hopefully, they can get through it,” de Leon said of the wounded troops, who were hit by shrapnel in the different parts of their bodies.
The soldiers were not able to open fire at the rebels, who fled after the attack and were being hunted by government forces, he said.
The attack on soldiers transpired as the military reported that the rebels have been weakened, notably in Northern Samar and were already on the verge of being decimated as a result of sustained government offensives.
De Leon claimed the mine was planted along a trail that was also being used by civilians, adding it was detonated while the soldiers were passing by.
The regional military commander denounced the use of landmines by the rebels.
On Friday, a day after President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. was sworn in after winning a landslide victory in the May 9 elections, government troops assaulted eight communist rebels, killing one, in a brief gun battle in Negros Oriental province, the Army said.
Marcos Jr. must deal with decades-long communist and Muslim insurgencies, along with longstanding territorial disputes with China and other claimants in the South China Sea.
During the campaign, he said he would pursue peace talks with communist insurgents and expressed support for a government task force established under his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, to fight the insurgency by bringing infrastructure, housing and livelihood projects to the poverty-stricken countryside.
The task force has drawn criticism for linking several left-wing activists and government critics to the communist insurgency, in what Duterte’s opponents said was baseless “red-tagging” aimed at muzzling legitimate dissent.
Despite battle setbacks, infighting and factionalism, the communist insurgency has continued to rage, mostly in rural areas, for more than half a century in one of Asia’s longest-running rebellions. It currently has an estimated 2,700 armed fighters.With AP