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Engkwentro sa Tiempo Muerto: Army reports foiling rebel attack on CAFGU outpost but officer says NPA afraid to go hungry as El Niño approaches

BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – A brigade-led operation of two Army maneuver battalions has foiled a plan of the Communist New People’s Army to attack a paramilitary outpost in southern Negros Occidental and has led to a series of skirmishes that left a rebel dead.

The dead guerrilla has ramped up the kill count of the Army to two since this week started amid the deepening of the tiempo muerto or the dead season in the sugar industry and soaring summer heat that has gone beyond usual levels.

“We have thwarted their plan to attack a detachment,” Almonte told DNX as he pointed out that the 20-man NPA unit, a platoon by rebel standards, was cobbled together from remnants of the Central Negros 2 beefed up by fighters from the NPA’s regional strike force.

Almonte said 303rd Brigade commander, Brigadier General Orlando Edralin, led the planning of the operation after civilians in the area tipped off soldiers about the planned attack.

He added the Army teams clashed with rebels around 2am, triggering a running gunbattle for close to two hours that involved soldiera chasing the fleeing rebels from Santol, a village in Binalbagan town, and through Cansalungon and Camang-camang in Isabela town.

The villages form a corridor through which the rebels move through, slipping across the border villages of the towns.

Santol village in Binalbagan, around 60 kilometers south of here, is near Bi-ao, also a mountain community where rebels ambushed a police patrol on the eve of Valentine’s Day last year.

The Army did not report any casualty or fatality in today’s clash that came only two days after the 62nd Battalion’s combat team clashed with rebels in Moises Padilla town and killed alias Jojo who the military claimed is a Red fighter under the Leonardo Panaligan Command of the NPA.

“Jojo” reportedly chairs what Edralin called as a “kangaroo court” or the rebels’ sham tribunal that metes out punishment, including death, to “enemies of the people and the revolution.”

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