Five Army soldiers were killed while two others were wounded when their temporary staging area was attacked by heavily armed communist rebels in Surigao del Sur on the first day of the military's unilateral declaration of ceasefire on Dec 16, Friday.
LtCol Joseph Norwin Pasamonte, the Commanding Officer of the 36th Infantry Battalion, disclosed that his soldiers belong to the community organizing for peace and development (COPD) team which was tasked to conduct non-combat missions in the villages around Tandag town.
Pasamonte said that a band of rebels on board a civilian truck, waylaid his 7-man COPD team at around 5:00am. The soldiers were overwhelmed by the heavy volume of fire from the rebels, causing the instantaneous death of 5 soldiers.
Military authorities have not disclosed the identities of the slain soldiers pending notification of their nearest kin. Meanwhile, the two wounded soldiers were evacuated to a private hospital where they are recuperating up to this time.
The civilian residents in the area have condemned the latest attack. More and more people have experienced the abuses perpetrated by the rebels who have continuously demanded bribes from local businesses and private contractors.