Army, police launch covert operation to locate 2 abducted soldiers in Sultan Kudarat

TACURONG CITY-- Police in Sultan Kudarat have intensified their intelligence operation in Columbio town to locate two soldiers abducted by communist rebels on Wednesday, a police official said Saturday.

"We maintain our support for the Philippine Army in Columbio and in Sultan Kudarat," said Supt. Romeo Galgo Jr., speaking for the Soccsksargen Police.

However, military and police intelligence units remain clueless about the identities of the communist rebels and their exact location.

An Army intelligence officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the two soldiers -- Sgt. Solaiman Calocop and Private 1st Class Samuel Garay of the Army's 39th Infantry Battalion -- are believed to be kept at the border of Sultan Kudarat and Davao del Sur, particularly in the mountains of Kiblawan, Davao del Sur where the New People's Army have a strong presence.

The soldiers were on board a motorbike when they were flagged down on Wednesday by some 15 NPA rebels in Barangay Telefas, Columbio.

Initial information showed the two infantrymen were from the battalion headquarters in Makilala, North Cotabato and were heading to their base in Barangay Telefas, hours after the communist rebels declared they will cancel their unilateral ceasefire with the government by February 10.

Following the incident, Brig. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, commander of the 6th Infantry Division alerted all brigades and battalions under his command to take safety measures to avoid getting kidnapped by communist rebels.

Columbio is part of Sultan Kudarat but is under the 1002nd Infantry Brigade based in Malungon, Sarangani.

601st Brigade chief, Col. Cirilito Sobejana, based in Tacurong City, said intelligence agents under the 601st, are helping the 1002nd brigade in locating the abducted soldiers.

No encounter has taken place since the abduction but covert operations are ongoing. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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