NPA attacks soldiers, charity workers en route to Surigao City

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Communist New People's Army (NPA) rebels opened fire at soldiers and charity workers heading to Surigao City on Tuesday.

A Philippine Army platoon and the ABS-CBN Foundation Team were returning to quake-stricken Surigao City, when they were ambushed by the NPA in San Francisco town at around 8:30 p.m.

There were no casualties, but the attack was still a violation of an earlier ceasefire declared by the NPA — purportedly to allow relief operations for quake-stricken places in Surigao.

Read: At least 8 dead; 202 injured in magnitude 6.7 Surigao quake

The Surigao ambush is just one among a string of NPA attacks in Mindanao.

In Mati City, the military said NPA rebels abducted militia man Rene Doller and burned his motorcycle.

Earlier Tuesday, about 30 NPA rebels set up a checkpoint in Purok Upper Waywayan, Brgy. Don Mariano in Lupon town Davao Oriental.

In the same town also on Tuesday, rebels put up a roadblock in Brgy. New Visayas and clashed with soldiers.

Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, the army's 28th Infantry Battalion Commander, said the rebels used children and women as human shields against government forces.

They were momentarily holed in a chapel along with their human shields before scampering away, the military said.

The NPA fought it out against the soldiers before withdrawing.

The military says there are indications the NPA suffered casualties, citing bloodstains left in the chapel.

RELATED: Abella: NPAs should show sincerity to peace talks

Government forces recovered 40 backpacks, medical paraphernalia, personal belongings, and subversive documents left by the NPA.

Zagala decried the recent incidents, especially the use of civilians as human shields.

"These condemnable  acts  are manifestation of the gross disregard of the NPAs of Human Rights especially that of the children and the elderly," Zagala said.

The government is waging an "all-out war" against the NPA after President Rodrigo Duterte reclassified the communist rebels as terrorists.

Davao-based journalist Ben Tesiorna contributed to this report.