Two civilian commuters were seriously injured Thursday evening when communist guerillas detonated a landmine along the national highway in Marihatag town, Surigao del Sur.
The New Peoples Army’s (NPA) Front 19 operating in parts of Surigao del Sur and Agusan del Sur admitted the improvised explosive device (IED) they set up in Amontay village had detonated by mistake.
It hit the vehicle of the victims Philip Silva Medrano, 47 of Tandag Cit,y and Joel Silyares, 47, of Butuan City, who sustained injuries and are now recuperating in a hospital.
Ka Amihan, spokesperson for NPA Front 19, in statement sent via SMS, said the IED’s intended target was the Army troopers and the patrolling police. She said the NPA members involved in the operation mistakenly set off the IED when the ill-fated vehicle passed by.
Ka Amihan assured they will compensate the victims, who were rushed to Adela Sy Memorial Hospital in Tandag City. Judith Suarez, manager of DXBP SURE FM in Tandag City, reported the victims were already safe and recuperating from their wounds.
Many other vehicles were stranded for 30 minutes at the time of the incident, police said.
The Army’s 36th Infantry Battalion based in the nearby Tago town condemned the incident, saying the ambush was a clear violation of the United sanctioned Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, of which the rebel movement is a signatory.
“To the NPA Front 19, are you happy with what you did? Now you are asking sorry to the innocent civilian victims which you claimed were wrong targets?” said Lt. Col. Randolph Rojas, commanding officer of the 36th IB in a statement posted on the Army’s Facebook page.
“We condemn the NPA for targeting civilains and we are in pursuit to serve justice to the victims,” Col. Rojas added. (PNA/Chris V.Panganiban)