DAVAO CITY — A landmine blast nearly hit a group of soldiers on a military truck in Monkayo town, Compostela Valley on Sunday, authorities and witnesses said.
Maj. Ezra Balagtey, the spokesperson of the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), confirmed the incident but refused to give details, saying reports from the ground were still sketchy.
But police sources revealed the bomb went off moments after a military truck – which was carrying soldiers from the Army’s 25th Infantry Battalion on their way back to their headquarters in the town proper – passed through a road in Sitio Libuton past 11 a.m.
Police also recovered an unexploded landmine near the blast site.
Residents said the explosion created a small crater on the roadside.
The police said the explosion could be the handiwork of the New People’s Army (NPA).
President Rodrigo Duterte had tagged the NPA as a terror group and vowed to unleash the government’s might against them, as he declared an end to the peace negotiations with the communists.
In response, Rigoberto Sanchez, the NPA spokesperson in Southern Mindanao, vowed in December that the NPA “would fight zealously the government under Duterte without room for illusion and naïveté” and even boasted of having carried out widespread NPA tactical offensives in the region in 2017.
Red fighters have launched a total of 196 tactical offensives and 23 “punitive actions” in the last 11 months, killing 215 government security forces, wounding 162 soldiers and capturing eight “prisoners-of-war,” Sanchez said.
“The revolutionary forces are not deterred by the threats and escalating human rights abuses of the Duterte regime,” the NPA spokesperson said.
“They join the broad united front of all peace-loving citizens in the country to oppose and oust Duterte and install a government respectful of justice, genuine democracy and freedom,” he added.