Six soldiers were killed and six others were wounded in a firefight with communist rebels in a village in Eastern Samar on Tuesday, an official said.
The slain soldiers were members of the Army’s 46th Infantry Battalion, said Lt. Gen. Noel Clement, commander of the Central Command based in Cebu City.
He said troops, led by Sgt. Gilbert Benito, were sent to Beri Village in Cabiga town following reports that New People’s Army guerrillas were extorting money from the residents there, and at 2:45 a.m. a firefight started between them and the guerrillas.
Capt. Reynaldo Aragones, spokesman of the Army’s 8th Infantry Division, said the fighting took place in a forested area where the troops had been in a disadvantage.
He said the troops were part of a team conducting a community support program among the residents in Buluan village before the encounter.
“The team received a report that NPA rebels were extorting money from the residents, prompting the troops from Buluan village to respond, Aragones said.
He said the rebels suffered an undetermined number of casualties because of the bloodstains on the site of the encounter.
Lt. Col. Noel Cagasan, commander of the 46th Infantry Battalion, said his troops were patrolling in the vicinity to check on the presence of the rebels when they encountered them.
“Six government soldiers offered their lives in the service of the Samareños, and six others were wounded,” said a source in Camp General Vicente Lukban in Catbalogan City.
“There was an undetermined number of wounded on the enemy side as indicated by the bloodstains along the way of their escape.”
Maj. Gen. Raul Farnacio directed the pursuit operation against the fleeing rebels and thanked the civilians for providing information on them.