Four soldiers killed in two separate clashes with communist rebels

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 19) - More soldiers were killed in two separate clashes between government troops and communist rebels on Sunday.

Three soldiers were killed and four others were wounded when government troops encountered members of the New People's Army (NPA) in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, Sunday morning, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) confirmed.

Colonel Inocencio Pasaporte, 303rd Infantry Brigade Commander, said the soldiers were closing in on the NPA terrorists, following reports of extortion activities in Barangay Carabalan, when an improvised explosive device detonated, inflicting immediate casualties among the soldiers, followed by a firefight.

“We express our deepest sympathy to the families of our hero-soldiers who died fighting for the peace in Negros Island,” Pasaporte said.

Meanwhile, one military personnel was killed in a separate encounter with communist rebels in Masbate, the AFP said.

Captain John Paul Belleza, Philippine Army's 9th Infantry Division public affairs chief, said that government troops were conducting security operations in Barangay Salvacion, San Fernando, Masbate at around 12:30 in the afternoon, when they encountered at least 30 men described as communist terrorists.

The firefight lasted for an hour before the dissidents fled the site, Belleza added.

Government forces later recovered three M16 rifles, two M4 rifles, one baby armalite, one M203 grenade launcher, six anti-personnel land mines, various ammunitions, communication equipment and other supplies at the site.

The Joint Task Force Bicolandia under MGen. Fernando Trinidad commended the soldiers and expressed gratitude to the people in the community who reported the presence of the armed rebels.

The AFP assured that government troops will continue to press against terrorists and rebels, working to sabotage the peace and security amid the COVID-19 crisis.

CNN Philippines' stringer Shiela Gelera contributed to this report.