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MILF eyes more combat operations vs IS-linked group

/ 05:19 AM September 11, 2017
MILF fighters prepare to deploy to areas of combat against terror groups in Central Mindanao. —KARLOS MANLUPIG

MILF fighters prepare to deploy to areas of combat against terror groups in Central Mindanao. —KARLOS MANLUPIG

DAVAO CITY — The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was expanding its role in the war on terror and prepared to launch more combat operations against Islamic State (IS) followers in Central Mindanao that included former MILF guerrillas.

Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the MILF panel overseeing the implementation of the peace pact with the government, said the MILF was stepping up its armed offensives against IS-linked groups which Iqbal said espoused ideals that contradicted Islam.

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The groups included the previously unheard of Jamaatul Mujahiren Wal-Ansar, led by an Abu Torife.

Jamaatul was composed of members of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a group that broke off with the MILF over disagreements on peace negotiations with the government.

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Jamaatul had since pledged allegiance to IS.

Emissary attacked

Weeks of combat operations, led by MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), in the towns of Datu Salibo, Mamasapano and Shariff Saidona Mustapha in Maguindanao province were targeted at Jamaatul.

The MILF said the combat operations came after Abu Toraife’s group attacked an emissary sent by the MILF to Shariff Saidona Mustapha town to talk with Jamaatul leaders.

In the MILF statement, Iqbal said it was “necessary for the MILF to protect its identified areas and communities from groups or individuals that pose any threat.”

The MILF position against terror, Iqbal said, was “further affirmed” by an edict issued by the Dar-ul Iftah “that every Muslim has the responsibility to defend and protect his people once an individual or group intrudes his village to cause damage and pain.”

No joint operations

The MILF also clarified that while the military was providing assistance, including air support, there were no joint combat operations between the BIAF and the Armed Forces.

“Officially and formally, there is no such thing as joint operation to be conducted by the MILF forces and government forces in Maguindanao,” Iqbal said.

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But Iqbal said combat operations were not the solution to the spread of terror in Mindanao.

“It is a must to find all other peaceful solutions to problems of what the Bangsamoro is facing nowadays,” he said. —Karlos Manlupig

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TAGS: Abu Torife, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, biff, Islamic State, Jamaatul Mujahiren Wal-Ansar, Maute group, MILF, Mohagher Iqbal, Moro Islamic Liberation Front
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