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3 rebels killed in 2 Escalante gun battles

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• GILBERT P. BAYORAN

The Philippine Army yesterday reported that three New People’s Army rebels died in two separate encounters with 79th Infantry Battalion troopers in Sitio Mansulao, Brgy. Pinapugasan, Escalante City, Negros Occidental.

Lt. Col. J Jay Javines, spokesperson of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, said that the identities of three slain rebels, who are believed to be remnants of the dismantled Northern Negros Front, are yet to be established as of last night.

Of the three rebel fatalities, two are males, while the one was a woman, according to Javines.

The first encounter between an estimated eight NPA rebels and 79IB soldiers took place at about 11 a.m. yesterday, which lasted about 30 minutes. It resulted in the death of three rebels, he added.

Pursuing Army soldiers managed to catch up with the fleeing rebels, resulting in another gun battle that lasted about 10 to 15 minutes, Javines further said.

He suspects that the eight NPA rebels encountered by 79IB soldiers, believed to be led by Roger Fabillar, alias Arnel Tapang, who has a bounty of P1 million for his involvement in a series of killings in the hinterlands of Toboso and Calatrava towns.

Recovered from the encounter site were two assault rifles and a handgun, as well as subversive documents.

Javines said the armed encounter took place after 79IB soldiers were informed by residents of the presence of armed men in their community.*

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