Army-NPA clash near school in Masbate

By Celso Amo LEGAZPI CITY--- An encounter between New People’s Army(NPA) rebels and elements from the 2nd Mobile Force Company of the Philippine National Police Monday morning have reportedly forced the cancellation of the opening of classes at a public school in Barangay San Vicente in Dimasalang, Masbate. Police Chief Inspector Arnel Neri, Masbate provincial police spokesperson, said about 50 NPA rebels first exploded an M-203 rifle grenade aimed at a platoon of the 2nd Mobile Force Company while on internal security operation at about 6:57 a.m. of that day. “It was not an improvised explosive that exploded as earlier reported but an M-203 rifle grenade fired by NPA rebels,” said Neri. He said the rebels fired at the government troops who returned fire. The resulting exchange of gunfire lasted for almost forty minutes, the police spokesman added. He also denied the report that classes were cancelled at Barangay San Vicente elementary school, which was about 100 meters from the encounter site. Report said the police were near the barangay plaza when they were fired upon. “Nobody was reported hurt or injured on the government side,” Neri added. He said NPA rebels were sighted at hinterlands in the towns of Dimasalang, Uson and Palanas. “Our policemen from Dimasalang, Uson and Palanas immediately put up check points and blocking forces immediately after the encounter,” he said. Pursuit operation was conducted against the fleeing rebels who withdrew in small groups.