Philippines condemn Communists for landmine use

Officer calls continued landmine use 'gross violation of international law' after five soldiers wounded in blast over weekend

Philippines condemn Communists for landmine use

World Bulletin / News Desk

The Philippines military denounced Monday the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) for its continued use of landmines in its ongoing conflict with government forces.

Lt. Col. Lennon G. Babilonia issued the statement after five of his soldiers were wounded in a landmine explosion Sunday in the province of Bukidnon, a hotbed of the New People's Army (NPA) in the troubled Philippines south.

Babilonia called on villagers in the province to support security forces in ongoing operations against insurgents, adding that such explosive devices are being planted by NPA rebels on forest trails where civilians pass.

“It is very disappointing that this incident has happened a day before the celebration of the International Day of Peace," Babilonia said.

"Nevertheless, we ask the local populace in the area to continuously support our troops as we conduct our security operations."

He added that under International Humanitarian Law (IHL), the use of landmines is prohibited.

Army spokesman Capt. Alberto Caber told Anadolu Agency that soldiers from the 8th Infantry Battalion were pursuing the guerrillas when a landmine exploded on their trail around 8.20 a.m (0020GMT).

In a statement, Caber said a firefight ensued for five minutes after the blast and the rebels were believed to have suffered casualties.

The military later found bloodstains and bandages stained with blood in rebel positions.

Wounded soldiers were immediately brought to a medical facility for treatment.

Caber said the rebels had taken flight after a failed assassination attempt on a village chief known to have been assisting government forces.

The village chief, Felipe S. Cabugnason, had been receiving death threats from NPA rebels ever since he led locals in liberating his village from "abusive" NPA rule, Caber added.

Philippine authorities have tagged the NPA as extortionists and blame them for harassing banana, pineapple and rubber plantations, as well as poultry farms and mining companies.

President Benigno Aquino had aimed to reach a peace deal with the communists by the end of his term in 2016, but the government last year said talks had collapsed due to rebel demands that detained comrades be freed.

The NPA is a Maoist group that has been waging one of Asia’s longest running insurgencies since 1969.

According to the military, fighting has claimed more than 3,000 lives in the past eight years alone.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 21 Eylül 2015, 10:19