Two Army soldiers were killed and three more, including a lieutenant were wounded, in an encounter with New People's Army (NPA) rebels in Tabuk City, Kalinga, last Friday.
At the same time, government troops overran an NPA camp in Sagada, Mountain Province used for training its rebels for combat but not before a fierce gun battle that resulted in the wounding of two police officers.
Major General Gregorio Catapang Jr., commander of the Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM), said that as of press time yesterday afternoon there have been flash encounters as government troops have been chasing the rebels since the first clash at 1:40 p.m. last Friday in Sitio Tomiangan, Barangay Dupag in Tabuk City.
The gun battle lasted 15 minutes with Corporals Rex Ragas and Dominador Concordia being hit fatally by the rebels' first volley of fire.
Also wounded in the encounter were Lt. Cesar Carsido and Privates First Class Marnel Lananga and Kennedy Savalla.
Sketchy reports said that the soldiers led by Lt. Carsido and one Lt. Faura of the 17th Infantry Battalion, were then on foot patrol when they were ambushed by the band of NPA guerrillas.
Catapang said the troopers believe they were also able to fatally wound a number of their attackers as the retreating rebels left a trail of blood along their escape route.
Meanwhile, police and military combatants took over the camp in Sitio Data, Barangay Aguid in Sagada even as two policemen were wounded by the rebels.
Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong, director of the Police Regional Office-Cordillera Administrative Region (PRO-CAR), said the battle to take the camp resulted in the wounding of Police Officers 1 Primo Marcelo and Romel Sagot.
''They were injured after they were met with heavy gunfire by more or less 35 heavily armed communist rebels within the camp,'' said Magalong.
Superintendent Davy Vicente Limmong, PRO-CAR spokesman, admitted the assault and take-over was no easy task as an air assault was necessary to support the ground forces in the end.
''The camp is so important to them because they use it as a staging area for their tactical offensive,'' said Limmong.
It is believed to be the staging area for two recent big attacks - the ambush of police trainees that left one person dead in Tadian, Mt. Province; and the ambush of police commandos that resulted in the death of at least eight people in Cagayan province.
After overrunning the camp, Magalong said the joint police and military personnel discovered, subversive documents, medical kits and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) installed along the route and round the camp intended to inflict mass casualties to the operating forces of the government.