Suspected Reds blast mining equipment, attack Lepanto tailings dam in Benguet

June 8, 2017 - 11:45 AM

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — Suspected communist rebels struck in Mancayan town, Benguet province late Wednesday night, blasting the equipment of a foreign ore processor with explosives and attacking the tailings dam of the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company where they were foiled by Army troops.

Mankaykan Mayor Materno Luspian confirmed receiving a call shortly past midnight Thursday about explosions and the sounds of a firefight but said he has yet to receive confirmation from the police if fighters of the New People’s Army’s Jennifer Cariño Command, which operates in the province, were involved.

The Mankayan police confirmed receiving a call around 10 p.m. Wednesday that the tailings dam in Barangay Cabiten was being attacked.

The rebels have yet to issue a statement acknowledging or denying responsibility for the attacks.

Police reports said a backhoe and a lime slaking machine at a “carbon in pulp” facility operated by a Korean investor in Cabatuan, Barangay Colalo were blasted by what workers said were seven heavily armed men and a woman. The facility processes leftover ore that the investor buys from Lepanto.

A police outpost in the village was also destroyed.

Police also said the security division of Lepanto reported that the attempt by the rebels to blast heavy equipment parked on the tailings dam was foiled by the arrival of soldiers.

A construction worker was reportedly grazed in the leg by a bullet during the firefight.

Two unexploded bombs were later found planed on a backhoe and a dump truck.

The Police Regional Office-Cordillera said the incident is still being investigated and clearing operations are underway.

Last month, guerrillas of the Jennifer Cariño Command raided a police substation in Loo, Buguias town, disarming the personnel on duty without a single shot fired.