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Abra, Ilocos Sur evacuees return to their homes after troopers-rebels clash

BAGUIO CITY — Villagers who fled after Tuesday morning’s firefight between government troopers and communist rebels along the border of Pilar, Abra and Sta Maria, Ilocos Sur have returned to their homes.

Pilar, Abra Mayor Tyronne Beroña said he obtained a security clearance Wednesday night from the Philippine Army to allow evacuees to go home.

Classes in the primary and secondary schools in the area had also resumed Thursday, the town mayor said.

At least 137 families or 483 individuals from barangays Nagcanasan and Gapang, both in Pilar town, fled toward the municipal gymnasium and some to their relatives after the firefight peaking into aerial combat sorties by the Philippine Air Force dusk Tuesday.

At least 27 families or 95 individuals from barangay Baballasioan in Sta Maria, Ilocos Sur who also fled to safer grounds have gone back to their village, according to Baballasioan barangay Chairman Anjong Dasalla as verified by Sta Maria town tourism information officer Mike Escobar.

Army Major Rigor Pamittan, speaking in behalf of the Philippine Army’s 5th Infantry Division said government troopers who have overpowered the 15 rebels believed to be from the Kilusang Larangang Gerilya-North Abra of the Ilocos Cordillera Regional Committee of the CPP-NPA (ICRC, CPP-NPA) they fought 11:50 a.m. Tuesday at a mountainous location in barangay Nagcanasan, are tracking down the rebels who have scampered to various direction and may have regroups elsewhere.

  “The security forces with the help of the people of Ilocos will ensure that there terrorist group will not cross Ilocos region,”  the military official said.

Ilocos Sur had been declared rebel-free several years ago. 

Earlier, Pilar town mayor Beroña suspected that the rebels were on transit passing through his town from nearby Sallapadan town, also in Abra towards Ilocos Sur.

Pamittan, however, hinted that government forces are zeroing on the rebels’ location, they believed, were holed up in an area not so far from the encounter site.