8 elite cops killed, 7 others hurt in NPA ambush in Cagayan
Seven other members of the Philippine National Police's elite SAF team were wounded in an ambush by communist New People's Army (NPA) rebels early Monday.
Just two days earlier, on Saturday, seven Philippine Marines were killed in a clash with Abu Sayyaf bandits in Patikul town in Sulu. Officials are still trying to determine if the incident was an "operational miscalculation" or a close encounter.
The ambush in Cagayan occurred at 8:30 a.m. at Capagaran village in Allacapan municipality, about two kilometers from the town's police station, according to an initial report from the Cagayan provincial police.
Chief Superintendent Rodrigo de Gracia, head of the Cagayan Valley regional police, said field reports indicated that the SAF members were aboard a truck headed for the town proper when their vehicle struck a landmine, which subsequently exploded.
After the explosion, some 30 rebels opened fire on the SAF team, resulting in the multiple casualties. It was not immediately known if the policemen were able to fire back, or if there were any rebel fatalities.
Senior Inspector Cesar Orlanes, spokesman of the Cagayan police, said the policemen had left their headquarters in Barangay Cataratan for a medical examination in the town proper when they were ambushed.
"Yung PRO-2 (Police Regional Office-2) kase ay nagpadala ng medical team sa Allacapan. Sinamantala na nila 'yun kasi isa 'yun sa requirement para sa physical fitness exam," he said.
Last month, the Philippine government decided to stop pursuing formal peace talks with the NPA's political arm, the National Democratic Front, which were "going nowhere."
Peace negotiator Alexander Padilla also cited the “mounting violence” by the NPA on civilian targets as one of the factors behind the decision of the government, which would instead explore alternate means to end the decades-long communist insurgency. — KBK/YA/HS, GMA News