SAF trooper who survived Mamasapano encounter killed in Abra grenade blast

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 25) — Exactly three years after surviving an encounter in Mindanao that claimed the lives of his fellow police commandos, PO3 Carlos Bocaig died on Thursday in La Paz, Abra.

Bocaig, a Special Action Force (SAF) trooper, and PO2 Frenzel Kitoyan were the two people killed when a grenade exploded during the town's celebration of its patron saint, Nuestra Señora de La Paz.

Bocaig was one of the 45 SAF troopers deployed on Jan. 25, 2015 to the town of Mamasapano in Maguindanao to serve arrest warrants against terror suspects Zulkifli bin Hir alias "Marwan" and Basit Usman.

Read: DOJ orders filing of charges vs Mamasapano massacre suspects

However, an encounter with Moro rebels in the town, despite a ceasefire in place, led to the death of 44 troopers, now known as the "SAF 44."

At least 18 rebels and five civilians were also killed in the botched operation.

'Cowardly act'

The blast also injured La Paz Mayor Menchie Bernos and her husband, Abra Rep. JB Bernos, who called the incident a "cowardly act" and a "deeply personal attack" against him, his family and his office.

"I am enraged that you threatened me and my wife with two explosives, but you cannot bring us down in a time when the people are seeing and feeling the gradual progress and development in Abra, and when you chose to target the Chair of the PNP Modernization Bill," he said in a Thursday statement.

"I feel nothing but sympathy for my fellow Lapazeños and for our guests for having to witness this atrocity when we are all supposed to be enjoying the occasion," he added.

Bernos said he and his wife are in stable condition and that he would extend assistance to those who were affected by the incident.

"Moreover, I will gladly await the results of the investigation of the PNP so that we may bring the involved entities to justice," he said.

"To those who are behind this wicked attack, I only have to say this: you will not benefit or prosper," Bernos added. "The terror and discord you have sown will yield nothing for your vested interest."