Gov’t airstrikes kill 6 BIFF gunmen in Maguindanao
COTABATO CITY — After four soldiers were killed by Islamic State (IS)-inspired gunmen in separate instances in this city and in Maguindanao province recently, the military retaliated and attacked a suspected lair of terrorists in Shariff Saydona Mustapha town, leaving six rebels dead, military reports said.
Two other suspected members of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were injured while a government soldier was killed during the initial clashes on Monday morning, according to Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division.
“Expect continuing military operations in the coming days to flush out BIFF in the peripheries of communities near the marshland,” Sobejana told reporters on Tuesday.
He withheld the identity of the slain soldier pending notification of his immediate family.
Six bodies, suspected to be BIFF rebels, were fished out of the marshland at Barangay Inaladan, Shariff Saydona Mustapha, after the military operation.
Residents told local and military officials that the fatalities were followers of Abu Torayfe, leader of a faction of BIFF.
Two helicopter gunships, backed by artillery fire, took turns in striking sections of the marshland.
The operation sent several villagers fleeing to safer grounds. Residents in the nearby towns of Datu Salibo and Mamasapano also fled during the military operation.
Sobejana said there would be no letup in the offensives even as he directed all units under his command to exercise precautionary measures to prevent retaliatory attacks, especially on off-duty soldiers.
Last week four soldiers, one in Cotabato City and three in Maguindanao, were killed by gunmen who later claimed to belong to BIFF. —Edwin O. Fernandez
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