Five gov't soldiers missing in ambush in N. Philippines

15:47, May 30, 2010      

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Five government soldiers, including a lieutenant, were declared missing in action when they were ambushed by leftist New People's Army rebels in the northern Philippine province of Camarines Sur Sunday dawn, the military said.

Maj. Harold Cabunoc, a spokesman of the Philippine Army, said civilians claimed to have seen four bodies of government soldiers at the forested ambush site at San Francisco village in Presentacion town.

"We are not yet sure if they are alive but there were civilians reported that four of the soldiers died in the jungles, we can't say it's true unless their bodies are seen by our soldiers," Cabunoc said.

But he said the fifth missing in action Pfc. Bernard Vergara is alive. He said Vergara had sent text message to his colleagues that he is just hiding near the vicinity after surviving the ambush.

"He (Vergara) said he is hiding for the meantime and he is not seeing any NPA (at his hiding place)," Cabunoc said. "He sent a text message to his boss, Col. Ernesto Cruz. He said he is still alive, he is just waiting for the arrival of the troops."

Cabunoc said the missing soldiers and seven other comrades were dispatched on Saturday night to pursue a group of NPA rebels who killed a soldier during an attack of an Army detachment at the nearby Bicalen village around 5:30 p.m.

Cabunoc said an Army company were dispatched to the site to locate the missing soldiers. "The thick vegetation in the area has delayed their advance towards the ambush site where the dead soldiers are said to have been spotted," said Cabunoc.

The NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has been waging a guerrilla campaign in the countryside for four decades. Military estimates the NPA strength at more than 5,000 men scattered in more than 60 guerrilla fronts throughout the country.

Peace talks between the government and the leftists bogged down in 2004 after the United States included the NPA and its parent body as foreign terrorist organizations.

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:叶欣)

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