3 BIFF members slain in clash with military in North Cotabato
PIKIT, North Cotabato – Three suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), including a fugitive from the January jailbreak at the North Cotabato District Jail, were killed in a clash with militiamen in a remote village here Thursday, the police said Friday.
Chief Inspector Donald Cabigas, the town police chief, identified the slain BIFF members as Tarzan Buntasil, Kensem Dungandong and Rusman Salik Mohammad.
Cabigas said the clash ensued when militiamen responded to a cattle rustling incident, in which two cows were stolen by the suspects in Barangay Bualan.
Cabigas said Mohammad, who was facing murder charges, was among the more than 100 inmates who bolted out of the provincial jail on January 4.
During pursuit operations, the militiamen under the 38th Infantry Battalion clashed with an armed group later identified as BIFF.
“The two cows were owned by (Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit) siblings Ariel and Constantino Wacan,” Cabigas told reporters. When the militiamen chased the cattle rustlers, they were fired upon by the gunmen in barangay Bualan, near the borders of Pikit and Aleosan towns, both in North Cotabato, triggering a two-hour firefight.
Police and government forces recovered several high powered firearms from the fallen BIFF fighters. The two cows were also recovered.
Bualan village chairperson Ali Piang said several families have fled to safer grounds during the clash but had since returned home. Edwin O. Fernandez INQ/AU
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