Communist guerrillas raid cult church, kill 3 cultists, hurt

Butuan City, Philippines - GUERRILLAS RAIDED A church owned by an anti-communist cult in a remote village here and killed three persons and wounded three others.

Senior Supt. Ramon Espiritu, city police chief, said the victims, members of the cult Independent Benevolent Missionary Association (IBMA), were preparing for a ritual when attacked by the rebels, numbering around 20, in Sitio Sangay, Bugsukan Village, at around 8 a.m.

Espiritu said armed IBMA members tried to fight back but were overpowered by the rebels.

The attack came just days after the NPA warned IBMA officials of punitive actions because of its anti-communist activities in the area.

Killed were Teodoro Boloran, Cyrus Iterma and Alfredo Marinduque.

Espiritu condemned the killing, saying the cultists were noncombatants that must be spared from the armed conflict.

"This is outrageous because the victims are members of a civilian-religious group," he said.

Army spokesperson Maj. Bartolome Bacarro said the NPA rebels shot the civilians Sunday as they were cleaning the chapel in Butuan, about 790 km southeast of Manila.

He said the attack was in revenge for the cultists' refusal to join the guerrillas.