Major Ezra L. Balagtey, spokesperson of the Eastern Mindanao Command ( file photo)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Second update at 5:09 pm on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017)—Two soldiers were killed and  17 others were wounded in a series of armed encounters with New People’s Army guerrillas in northern Davao City on Thursday.

Major Ezra Balagtey, Civil Military Operations Officer of the Joint Task Force Haribon said ​the NPAs set off a landmine when a convoy of troops passed along in Barangay Tawantawan, Calinan district here. The soldiers were pursuing armed men who allegedly burned a pineapple harvester owned by Del Monte.

Balagtey added that an encounter between the troops of 3rd Infantry Battalion and NPA also happened along the boundary of Barangay Lacson and Barangay Lamanan still in Calinan District about 4 pm yesterday.

President Rodrigo Duterte is scheduled to visit the two soldiers killed in action on Friday afternoon at the Army’s headquarters in Panacan here.

In a separate incident a group of NPAs attacked a military detachment in Sitio Binaton in Barangay Malabog, Paquibato District around 5 am.

Balagtey said an NPA was killed during the incident.

Brigadier General Gilbert I. Gapay, Commander of JTF Haribon expressed grief for the death of the soldiers and vowed to pursue the NPAs.

The Army troopers were able to recover a caliber 45 and a garand rifle, two improvised explosive device and materials in making explosives in the site of the encounters.

“We grieved for the death of our soldiers, and we salute them for their display of the finest tradition of soldiery, we see to it that their death will not be in vain, this will further motivate us to work for peace in this part of the country,” Gapay said in a statement.

He added that the military is conducting clearing operations in the area.

Meanwhile, Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesperson of the NPA Regional Operations Command in Southern Mindanao said they launched three tactical offensives on February 14.

He said five troops were killed while several others were wounded in these​attack​s against the 28th Infantry Battalion in Barangay New Visayas, Lupon, Davao Oriental around 8 am on Tuesday.

He said two active members of the Cafgu Active Auxiliary​,​ Rene Doller and Carl Mark Nucos​, were captured by the NPA rebels in a checkpoint  put up in Barangay Don Mariano Marcos in Lupon.

“In Bukidnon province, the joint operation mounted by 72nd CAFGU and paramilitary Alamara was hit by Red fighters under the Davao City–Bukidnon Sub-Regional Operations Command at around 9:00 in the morning in Barangay Matupi, Kitaotao,” Sanchez said.

The NPA spokesman added that their units are launching offensives against government troops across the country.

The Army on Wednesday reported there were already seven military personnel and civilians who were being held by the NPAs.

Captain Andrew Linao, civil-military opertaion officer of the 701st Infantry Brigade in a phone interview with Davao Today also reported that some 80 commuters were stopped by the NPAs in Sitio Waywayan, Barangay Don Mariano along the highway of Maragusan going towards Mati City.

He said the commuters were taken near a chapel where the NPAs talked to them.

“They talked to them about recent issues. After 10 am they were released,” he said. ​

He said in Davao Oriental area covered by the 701st IB they have already encountered the NPA twice this month, including the clash in Manay, Davao Oriental where a junior officer was killed.​(

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