At least seven soldiers were injured, two of them were in critical condition, when communist rebels allegedly triggered anti-personnel mines along the roadside in Mapanas, Northern Samar on Tuesday morning, July 5, in what was described as a "cheap warfare."
The Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Division (8ID) said the soldiers were hurt after four anti-personnel mines planted underneath the coconut trees suddenly exploded while they were conducting road clearing operations in Barangay Magsaysay around 6:15 a.m.
The identities of the soldiers were withheld pending notice of their respective families but they are all members of the 20th Infantry Battalion (20IB). Among them is a Sergeant, four Privates First Class, a Corporal, and a Private.
Major Gen. Edgardo de Leon, commander of the 8ID, said the troops were with the 63rd Infantry Battalion (63IB) as they responded to reports that communist rebels have planted anti-personnel mine in the area.
“Actually, the troops were on an immersion in the village and they were conducting clearing operations because they received reports that there were mines planted by the rebels,” De Leon said.
“In the process of the clearing operations, an anti-personnel mine suddenly went off and it was planted on the trail where civilians pass by. Luckily, there were no civilians hurt but seven of our troops were injured, two of them were critical,” he added.
The wounded soldiers sustained multiple shrapnel wounds in their body, abdomen, legs, feet, thigh, face, and back. One Private First Class personnel sustained head injuries.
De Leon believes that it was the communist groups that are behind the attack although he has yet to identify what particular group might be involved. He said he ordered the military in the area to conduct a hot pursuit operation.
The military commander said they will file a case against the National Democratic Front (NDF) for their “failure” to stop the New People’s Army (NPA) from producing and using anti-personnel mines which are banned items under the International Humanitarian Law (IHL).
“The NDF serves as the representative of the NPA so therefore, if they are the representatives, they will be the ones responsible for the violations of the ,” De Leon said.
“Until now, they could not stop the NPA from manufacturing, transporting, stockpiling, and using anti-personnel mines. In this particular incident, somebody detonated the anti-personnel mine because it was not pressure-released," he added.
An anti-personnel mine is a type of explosive that is directed towards an individual to inflict harm. It can be remotely detonated or triggered by pressure.
“That is the cheapest warfare. Our troops were not able to fire shots because of the explosion. The suspects immediately escaped,” De Leon said.