By Anthony Vargas, Reporter
COMMUNIST rebels made their last assault for 2005, burning down a telecommunications tower in Occidental Mindoro on Friday.
Reports reaching Camp Aguinaldo on Saturday said about 20 New People’s Army guerrillas raided the tower owned by Globe Telecoms in Sitio Bolo, Barangay Nicolas, Magsaysay.
The rebels poured gasoline on the tower’s base and set it on fire.
The reports did not say if workers were in the facility at the time.
The tower was the 23rd facility of Globe to have been attacked by the NPA this year.
The raid took place hours before a two-day New Year cease-fire the government had declared was to take effect.
For the first time in about two decades, the Communist Party of the Philippines did not declare a Christmas truce, saying the government was insincere in seeking peace. The peace talks are on hold.
The CPP instead ordered the NPA, its armed wing, to intensify attacks on government forces.
The Armed Forces chief of staff, Gen. Genoroso Senga, has vowed to step up the offensive against communist rebels this year.
Data from the military released Friday showed that 1,810 NPA rebels were killed in encounters with government soldiers in 2005. The military, on the other hand, lost 458 of its men in clashes with the NPA.
In Pikit, North Cotabato, at least 15 people were injured, many seriously, when a grenade was tossed into a crowd watching billiard games Friday, police and military said Saturday.
The grenade was reportedly thrown by one of two men riding a motorcycle.
Police and military launched a joint manhunt operation to capture the suspects. Separatist Muslim rebels were also helping authorities track down the two still unidentified men.
Our forces are tracking the attackers and we will arrest them and bring justice to the victims, Eid Kabalu, a spokesman for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), told The Manila Times on Saturday.
No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the blast. The province was previously bombed by Abu Sayyaf militants whose group is tied to the al-Qaeda terror network.
Besides the Abu Sayyaf, communist insurgents are also active in the area, and had attacked government and military targets in the past.
Last month, New People’s Army insurgents detonated a landmine in North Cotabato’s Tulunan town, killing three soldiers and wounding about a dozen more.