The number of individuals who sought refuge in the lowlands, following armed skirmishes between government forces and suspected New People’s Army rebels on Saturday in Sitio Morino, Brgy.Paitan, Escalante City, Negros Occidental, rose to 747, yesterday.
Of the 747 displaced persons, 349 are now staying at the evacuation center in Brgy. Paitan, and 398 others in Brgy. Libertad, all in Escalante City, 1Lt. Revekka Roperos, 303rd Infantry Brigade Civil Military Operations officer, said yesterday.
The recent encounter between soldiers of the 79th Infantry Battalion and an estimated 30 NPA rebels who detonated an anti-personnel mine, led to the injuries of three Army soldiers.
Roperos also reported that pursuing Army soldiers saw five casualties of the fleeing rebels being dragged by their comrades. This was also bolstered by civilians in the area, who reported the presence of armed men in their community to the authorities.
Heavy traces of bloodstains were also seen along the rebels withdrawal routes. Pursuing government troopers also recovered anti-personnel mine detonating wire, a utility rope, 2 G-Shock wrist watches, subversive documents and pamphlets, a hammock an, NPA cap and assorted personal belongings.
Roperos said the pursuit operations are still ongoing, but with no significant result as of this time.
Capt. Lowell Dairocas, 79IB Civil Military Operations Officer, said that the NPA rebels they had encountered were trying to recover the area, by recruiting again residents, who had severed their affiliation with the terrorist organization.
Zeaphard Gerhart Caelian, Disaster Management Program Division chief, said the Provincial Health Office distributed 150 folding beds and 210 hygiene kits to the displaced persons.
The local government unit of Escalante City, meanwhile also distributed family food packs, on top of relief goods from the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office, Caelian added.*
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