BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Four suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) were killed, while 13 others, including a top-ranking rebel leader, were captured yesterday during an encounter with the police elite Special Action Force troopers in Sitio Balik-Balik, Brgy. Tabu, Ilog, Negros Occidental.
Lt Col Ryan Manongdo, commander of the 6th Special Action Battalion, disclosed that four of the 14 arrested rebels were injured in more than one hour of gunbattle, including Nilda Natan Bertulano, secretary of the NPA South West Front.
Manongdo, however, said that one of the four injured rebels died on their way to a hospital.
Bertulano also suffered gunshot wounds in left arm and left thigh, he added.
Manongdo also reported that a SAF trooper was also slightly injured in the gunbattle.
Recovered from the encounter site were four M16 assault rifles, among other war materials.
Manongdo said that troopers of the 6th SAB and 2nd Negros Occidental Police Mobile Force Company chanced upon the group of Bertulano, estimated at about 20 armed men, while they were conducting combat operations in the area, which led to a gunbattle that lasted for one hour and 10 minutes.
Bertulano and three other injured NPA rebels were treated by SAF combat medics before they were transported to a hospital for further treatment, he added.
The 10 other arrested rebels were turned over by SAF troopers to the Ilog Police Station for further investigations.
About 20 families, who are residing within the vicinity of the encounter, reportedly fled from their respective homes, for security reasons.*