7 suspected local IS fighters nabbed in Cotabato City COVID-19 checkpoint
COTABATO CITY—The military announced the arrest by soldiers of seven terror suspects belonging to a breakaway Moro armed group with links to Islamic State on Tuesday (Dec. 8).
The arrested men were members of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a group of armed men who broke off from Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and linked up with IS, an international terror network.
Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., chief of the military’s Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom), said soldiers from the 40th Infantry Battalion intercepted the terror suspects past noon at a village here.
The arrest came as the military and police were hunting down BIFF members, who laid siege to the town of Datu Piang, Maguindanao province on Dec. 3, burned a police patrol car and shot at houses and a church.
Lt. Col. Rogelio Gabi, 40th IB commander, said soldiers manning a quarantine control checkpoint noticed the men aboard a vehicle trying to pass through.
“They identified themselves as legitimate members of Moro Islamic Liberation Front,” Gabi said.
The armed men, however, failed to show proof of MILF membership and were arrested. Their guns—Garand and M-14 rifles—were seized along with ammunition.
Following its 2014 peace deal with the government, the MILF has committed to decommission its combat force. As of this year, 12,000 of its 40,000 regular fighters have completed the process.
Gabi said those arrested were brought to the Maguindanao police headquarters in Datu Hoffer town for further questioning.
The Army official said police and military intelligence operatives are jointly establishing which of the three BIFF factions the seven belonged to.
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