File photo of NPA guerrillas taken in December last year.Pic by Edwin Espejo

File photo of NPA guerrillas taken in December last year. Pic: Edwin Espejo.

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – A high ranking leader of the New People’s Army (NPA) was killed along with four others in a fierce encounter in Alabel, Sarangani Monday morning according to the military here.

Slain was one alias Ka Lucas, said to be the secretary of Front 75 of the Far South Mindanao Regional command of the NPA.

“We have recovered five bodies including that of Ka Lucas,” said Col. Ronald Villanueva, commanding officer of the Army’s 1002nd Brigade.

“We have been tracking them for the last few days,” he added.

He said his troops finally caught up with the rebels in Datal Angas triggering a running gunbattle.

Datal Angas is 1,000 kilometers south of Manila.

Col. Villanueva said follow up operations are still ongoing even added that the military recovered at least six high-powered firearms from the rebels.

“Nakakuha kami ng 2 AK-27, tatlong M16 at isang M-203,” the Army official said. (We recovered 2 AK-47s, 3 M-16s and one M-203)

There was no immediate statement from the NPA rebels who usually admit their casualties, although often belatedly.

The Far South Mindanao Command of the NPA is among the more active units of the communist-led rebel forces in Mindanao.

It has however suffered successive setbacks last year, including the death of a former president of the UP Mindanao Student Council who was slain along with three others in an encounter in Maasim also in Sarangani in November.

The latest encounter in Datal Angas came barely 24 hours after another group of NPAs tried to overrun the police station in Mati City in Davao Oriental.

An NPA rebel was slain in the foiled attack at the police station while a policeman was wounded.

Three soldiers were however killed when reinforcements from the military were met with landmines exploded by rebel blocking forces.

Another soldier was also slain when he tried to escape from a rebel checkpoint.

A report said that the the regional director of Police Regional Office 11 barely escaped from harm in another land mine explosion at around 1.30am while on his way to check the police station in Mati.