World Bulletin / News Desk
Nine military personnel were injured Saturday when a helicopter on a casualty evacuation mission crash landed in a stronghold of communist rebels in the southern Philippines.
Army spokesperson Capt. Alberto Caber told Anadolu Agency in a text message that the chopper was on a mission to extricate soldier casualties of the army's 73rd Infantry Battalion when it encountered strong winds.
Caber said the helicopter went down around 9:40 a.m. (GMT0140) in the village of Upper Suyan, Malapatan town, Sarangani -- one of several provinces where the New People's Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), is waging a guerrilla war.
"There were prevailing strong winds when the helicopter was landing," Caber said.
He said nine people aboard the aircraft -- including the pilot, crew and some soldiers -- suffered injuries and were secured by ground troops.
Caber said Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, commander of the military's Eastern Mindanao Command, has ordered the dispatch of more helicopters to evacuate the wounded 73rd IB soldiers who are currently in a combat confrontation with NPA guerrillas.
Since March 1969, the NPA has been waging one of Asia’s longest running insurgencies, which the military says has claimed more than 3,000 lives in the last eight years alone.
Talks with the CPP and its armed wing were suspended a few years ago after the rebels demanded the release of their associates from custody.
However, government negotiators have said they are coordinating with Norway to determine how negotiations with the group can move forwardLast Mod: 07 Kasım 2015, 14:48