BY LEANDER C. DOMINGO
CAGAYAN (January 29)—A suspected communist lair located at the foot of Mount Cagua in Gonzaga town, Cagayan province has been under attack from the military since early Saturday.
A flash report by the 5th Infantry Division (ID) based at Camp Melchor F Dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela province revealed that the Philippine Army’s 501st Infantry Brigade (501st IB) and the Philippine Air Force (PAF) launched their offensive against members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) terrorist group.
The 5th ID Public Affairs Office (DPAO) led by Capt. Rigor Pamittan said the 501st IB was joined by the 77th Infantry Battalion (IB), 17th IB and 701st IB the ground operation which started at around 4:00 a.m.
According to the DPAO, intelligence reports said around 40 NPA terrorists belonging to the Komiteng Rehiyon Cagayan Valley were earlier spotted in the vicinity of Mount Cagua.
Reports from Gonzaga residents said they saw ground troops advancing towards Mount Cagua in Sitio Maging, Barangay Santa Clara and choppers providing air support.
Jet fighters also dropped bombs in the area of the NPA den.A witness who identified himself as Rod Erick Sola said he was in Barangay Rebecca in Gonzaga when bombs were dropped and heard occasional gun shots at the foot of Mount Cagua.
“It seems the groups have clashed as choppers cover the advancing troops. Gunfight has started as bombs were dropped anew,” Sola was quoted as saying in a Facebook post by Dr. Ferdinand Cortez, Department of Agriculture-Region 2 public relations officer and broadcast unit head.
Cortez said long and heavy machine gun fire could be heard in Sitio Maging in Gonzaga as the firefight between military troops and the CTGs escalated by mid-morning.
“Heavy bombardment by the Philippine Air Force air assets flushed the CTGs at the foot of Mt. Cagua earlier today,” he added.
Local authorities in Gonzaga town have advised civilians to stay away from the battle zone.