MANGATAREM, Pangasinan, Nov. 24 (PIA) - Army soldiers seized a terrorist camp of the New People's Army (NPA) after a 30-minute firefight in Mangatarem town that erupted early Tuesday morning.
In a report released by the Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM), the engaged scout unit was confirming intelligence reports from indigenous peoples living close to the terrorist camp who have gone tired of being coerced by the NPAs.
Brigadier General Audrey Pasia, commander of the 702nd Infantry Brigade who supervised the operations, said that his soldiers requested for artillery fire support after finding themselves outnumbered against an estimated 40 heavily armed communist terrorists hiding in the mountains of Brgy. Lawak Langka.
"Our forces are still scouring the area. Additional forces were flown in by helicopters to provide close air support and reinforce the engaged troops, " BGen. Pasia said in the statement.
No casualty was reported on the side of the military.
Follow on forces and K-9 assets have been deployed to conduct pursuit operations against the other fleeing NPAs while checkpoints have been established along possible exit routes, he added.
Major General Alfredo Rosario, commander of the 7th Infantry Division, said that government soldiers are committed and prepared to always protect the country.
"Our soldiers' ability to decisively engage the enemies of the state despite the ongoing humanitarian missions brought about by the series of typhoons is a testament to our collective commitment and high state of readiness to serve our people and secure this part of our land," Maj. Gen. Rosario said.
Meanwhile, NOLCOM Commander Lieutenant General Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr. expressed optimism that this encounter will lead the few remaining NPA terrorists to choose peace over conflict, avail of government grants under the Enhanced - Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) and lead normal lives together with their families.
"The fact that we are now receiving real-time information is a loud and clear warning to the few remaining NPAs in this part of the country to put down their arms and return to the folds of law while they still can because our soldiers can, and will, hunt them down even up to the most isolated corner and crevices of Northern and Central Luzon," Lt.Gen. Burgos said.
He assured the public that the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are and will always be focused on their security mandate without prejudice to their commitment and readiness to perform humanitarian missions anytime, anywhere. (JCR/AMB/VHS/with reports from NOLCOM)