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Caritas condemns attack on relief operations

Manila (UCAN): “The ambush of soldiers while delivering relief goods is deplorable,” Father Edwin Gariguez, the executive secretary of Caritas-Philippines, said.
Fifty gunmen from the New People’s Army shot at troops from Philippine Army’s 20th Infantry Battalion who were assisting families in the town of Catubig, Northern Samar province in the central Philippines, which was battered by the tropical storm, Kai-tak, a week before Christmas.
Father Gariguez stressed that in “emergency humanitarian operations,” soldiers should not be targets of attacks, “particularly if they are bringing relief goods to flood victims.”
The ensuing gunfight caused injuries to two soldiers and caused panic among residents.
Father Gariguez added the attack should not be used as reason for the government and the rebels not to declare a Christmas truce.
“We are advocating for a peaceful and just resolution of armed conflict,” he said, adding that “peace talks should proceed and ceasefire should be observed by both parties during Christmas and even beyond.”
At the time of going to press, disaster officials estimated that about a million people were affected in the central Philippines. About 100,000 individuals remained in 381 evacuation centres. 

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