AFP. 31 January 2002. Communist rebels may have fired on US plane in Philippines: official.
MANILA -- Communist insurgents may have fired upon a US special forces aircraft in the northern Philippines, local military sources said Friday after the Pentagon revealed one of its planes had been hit by small-arms fire. A military source, who asked not to be identified, said the shooting took place in the northern province of Abra where communist New People's Army (NPA) guerrillas are known to be active. "It was in Abra and you know there are NPA over there," the source told AFP. However military officials stressed they were still investigating the incident and trying to determine precisely when and where the shooting occured and what type of firearm was used. Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis announced in Washington that a US Air Force MC-130 came under fire Thursday while conducting a low-level training mission in a mountainous area on the island of Luzon. The aircraft, which was hit by at least two bullets, returned safely to Clark Air Base in the northern Philippines and no one was injured in the incident, Davis said. The aircraft was taking part in "Balance Piston," a joint US-Philippine military exercise in the north of the country, focusing on counter-terrorism. The shooting cast a cloud over larger joint US-Philippine military operations in the south where American soldiers are training local troops to hunt down the Abu Sayyaf Muslim kidnapping group that allegedly has links with the al-Qaeda network of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden. Communist insurgents in the Philippines had previously threatened to attack any American soldiers who enter their so-called territories during the joint operations with local troops. The NPA are active in the northern Philippines but generally do not operate in the areas of the southern Philippines where Muslim guerrillas are present. Communist rebels had also originally been suspected of killing an American trekker and wounding his German friend in an ambush near Pinatubo volcano in the northern Philippines on Wednesday. [N.B.] However, police later said there were conflicting accounts that the shooting may have been carried out by a local tribesman with a home-made rifle for reasons that remain unclear. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Barry Stoller http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ProletarianNews