Soldiers capture 2 satellite camps of breakaway Moro rebels in MaguindanaoBy Edwin Fernandez, Jeoffrey Maitem
COTABATO CITY, Philippines–Government soldiers on Saturday captured two satellite camps of the breakaway Moro rebel group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in the mountains of Datu Unsay and Datu Hoffer towns in Maguindanao.
Colonel Prudencio Asto, speaking for the military’s 6th Infantry Division, said one of the hilltop camps could accommodate more than 100 men and had small makeshift clinic and bunkers.
Troops also recovered what they believed was BIFF leader Ameril Umra Kato’s wheelchair.
The other camp, he said, had four bunkers and 10 foxholes.
“There were sniping fires from the enemy side as our men were advancing towards the rebels’ lairs but there were no casualties on our side,” Asto said.
“We took control of the camps with minimal resistance and no casualties on our side. We are going to insert permanent troops to both camps so the rebels cannot go back,” he said.
In the town of Guindulungan, soldiers killed six rebels as they engaged in gun battle with BIFF rebels on Friday night in the village of Bagan.
Asto said the rebels harassed an Army detachment by firing automatic guns but troops managed to defend their position.
Nearly 9,000 families, or 45,526 people, in seven towns of Maguidanao have been displaced when BIFF forces stormed Army bases in Maguindanao on August 5.
Some of those who fled their homes stay in evacuation centers while the others are living with relatives.
Assistant Secretary Pombaen Kader of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said some of the evacuees would go home to their villages at daytime to tend their farms, and return to the evacuation centers at night.
Acting ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman said at least 40 percent of the internally displaced persons have returned to their places of origin.
“Our move now is to help these people return home and restore normalcy in their communities while our security sector was trying to bring back normalcy in conflict-affected areas,” Hataman said.