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AFP accuses NPA of treachery in Samar ambush-slay of 10 soldiers, 9-year-old boy

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“It’s treachery!”

This was the accusation hurled by Lt. Col. Antonio Parlade, spokesman of the Philippine Army, in reaction to the killing of 10 soldiers and a nine-year-old boy caught in the crossfire during an ambush staged by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Samar less than 48 hours before a Christmas truce took effect Thursday.

Two other soldiers were wounded when the rebels exploded a landmine as a 12-man Army patrol was returning to base in the town of Las Navas, Northern Samar on Wednesday.

The United Nations (UN) has banned the use of landmine because of its effects to non-combatants.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) tagged the treacherous ambush-slaying as "Northern Samar 10, Plus 1," referring to the 10 soldiers killed in action and the boy caught in the crossfire during the firefight that followed.

The identities of the slain soldiers were temporarily withheld pending the notification of the next of kin.

However, the Army identified those wounded as Cpl. Ricardo Cabral and Pfc. Heder Pavillon.

The nine-year-old Joven Kabe was swimming in a nearby river when he was fatally hit by stray bullets.

The ambush occurred just as the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) were preparing for another round of informal peace talks in Oslo, Norway next month.

It also came at a time when NDF chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni is in the country to visit his relatives and friends.

The government has given Jalandoni and his wife safe passage to visit the Philippines after holding an informal dialogue with government chief peace negotiator Health Undersecretary Alex Padilla in Hong Kong on Dec. 1-2.

Parlade said that “the ambush is an indication that the NDF has no control over the NPA,” particularly at a time when the two peace panels have made initial contacts to restart formal peace negotiations that bogged down in August 2005.

“But despite the incident, the military will not launch any counter-offensive against the NPA rebels who ambushed our troops” to show the sincerity of the government that it is serious to end the armed conflict, Parlade added.

The AFP has started observing the 19-day Christmas ceasefire which commenced at 12:01 a.m. Thursday. It will last until Jan. 3, 2011, the longest truce observed by the military in years.

The ambush was the second in a week. Earlier, the NPA killed five people in an ambush also in Northern Samar.

The AFP has noted that every time a peace talk is about to take place, the NPA would attack government forces, apparently to provoke the latter, particularly when there is a ceasefire.

By Ben Cal-PNA




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