KIDAPAWAN CITY—Militiamen repulsed a group of renegade Moro rebels who tried to take over a village in Midsayap, North Cotabato, on Wednesday, according to police.
Superintendent Reynante Delos Reyes, chief of police of Midsayap, said at least 50 armed men belonging to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) attacked the village of Baliki, firing rocket propelled grenades and assault rifles at a militia detachment.
Although outnumbered, militiamen engaged the renegade rebels in an hourlong gunfight until reinforcements arrived past 9 p.m.
When members of the Midsayap police force and soldiers from the 40th Infantry Battalion arrived, the renegade rebels fled in motorboats waiting for them at the Rio Grande River to the direction of Datu Piang, a town in Maguindanao.
It was the second attack by the BIFF in the village of Baliki since Monday.
On Monday, the BIFF also attacked Barangay Baliki and stormed a nearby village, Polomoquin, as they fled. The renegade rebels killed one farmer and stole eight carabaos and two motorcycles from farmers in Polomoquin.
Abu Misry Mama, speaking for the BIFF, admitted that the group was involved in the Barangay (village) Baliki attacks, which he said was a retaliation for militia attacks on BIFF areas.
The BIFF attacks in Midsayap came a day after more than 100 members of the renegade group fired at an oil tanker and
attacked an Army base in Datu Piang, triggering clashes that left eight BIFF members dead.
The attacks forced the Army to shut down portions of the Cotabato-Isulan Highway as soldiers cleared the roadside of bombs left by the armed men.
Delos Reyes urged residents in the borders of Midsayap and Datu Piang to remain on alert and be vigilant. He urged them to quickly alert police about the presence of armed men.
Led by Ameril Umra Kato, a former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leader who broke off from the MILF over disagreements on peace negotiations with the government, the BIFF is a heavily armed group that is capable of sowing terror.
Mama said the BIFF will continue launching attacks against government targets until the group attains a “genuine Bangsamoro state.”
“Even if it is as small as a barangay, as long as it is following the Islamic law,” said Mama. “The Philippine Constitution will never accommodate the Islamic law,” he said. Edwin O. Fernandez, Inquirer Mindanao