Army gives green light for return of residents to Maguindanao villages cleared of BIFF men
COTABATO CITY—The military on Wednesday (March 7) gave the green light for residents to return to their homes in villages in Maguindanao province after these were cleared by government forces of members of the Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
Lt. Col. John Paul Baldomar, spokesperson of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, told the Inquirer the cleared villages were in the towns of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Datu Salibo, Mamasapano, Shariff Aguak and Shariff Saydona Mustapha where residents fled their homes during clashes between the Army and BIFF.
The clashes broke out last March 18 after more than 50 members of BIFF, under the command of Ustadz Karialan, also known as Imam Minimbang, massed at the village of Kitanga in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town.
The on and off clashes lasted for several days and left more than 20 BIFF fighters dead and scores of government soldiers wounded.
Baldomar said while residents may now return to their homes, such would be the call of local officials.
Authorities have counted over 66,000 people displaced from their homes. They had taken shelter in 55 evacuation sites in 10 towns.
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