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Military, suspected NPAs engage in firefight in Zamboanga del Sur

Government soldiers exchanged gunfire with 10 suspected members of the New People's Army in Zamboanga del Sur on Wednesday, a report on Unang Balita on Thursday said.

The firefight occurred past 1 p.m. in Brgy. Mati in the municipality of Tigbao just days after President Rodrigo Duterte declared that the ceasefire with the communist rebels is off.

Residents were forced to evacuate to avoid being hit by stray bullets.

Soldiers from the 53rd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army went to the area after receiving an intelligence report that members of the NPA were extorting money from residents, Lt. Col. Virgilio Hamos, Jr., commanding officer, said in the report filed by GMA News stringer Aude Hampong.

When the soldiers arrived in the area, the rebels immediately fired upon them.

The firefight lasted for seven minutes until the suspected NPA members withdrew and escaped.

No one from the government soldiers was hurt in the firefight, Hamos said.

However, they could not say if the rebels suffered any casualties.

Soldiers recovered four cellular phones, bullets, and a .45-caliber firearm, among others, at the site.

The government has declared an all-out war against the New People's Army after Duterte said he considers the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines a terrorist group. —KG, GMA News