TACLOBAN CITY, May 17– The Philippine Army is tracking down a group of armed rebels behind the killing of an army corporal in a clash on Tuesday in the outskirt of Matuguinao, Samar.

The 15-minute firefight took place in remote Mahayag village in Matuguinao town, the Philippine Army reported Wednesday afternoon.

“A pursuit operation is being conducted to apprehend the rebels. Army units in nearby areas were ordered to conduct checkpoints along possible entries and exits of withdrawals of the enemy and to verify possible accommodation of wounded enemy in nearby hospitals,” said 1st Lt. Cherry M. Junia, chief of the Philippine Army 8th Infantry Division public affairs office.

The 43rd Infantry Battalion based in Lope de Vega, Northern Samar clashed with about 20 NPA rebels around 9:45 a.m. on Tuesday. Killed during the encounter was Corp. Renjie Ada.

Junia said there were undetermined number of casualties on the enemy’s side.

The 15-minute firefight erupted when soldiers chased a group of communist rebels asking for food and medicines from villagers.

Matuguinao, a 5th class farming town is about 105 kilometers north of this city. Most of its 20 villages are infested by rebels due to poor road networks and thick forest.

Samar is known to be one of the hotbeds of armed rebels in the country. Several encounters between the army and NPA had been reported in Samar in the past years.(Sarwell Q. Meniano/PNA)