5 BIFF gunmen killed in Maguindanao clash
CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao, Philippines — Five members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), who reportedly took part in occupying the public market of Datu Paglas town on Saturday, were killed in a clash on Tuesday night as government forces pursued the group linked to the Islamic State.
Brig. Gen. Roy Galido, commander of the Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade, said after the BIFF’s brief show of force in Datu Paglas, the gunmen crossed over to Buluan town, where the military sent troops to intercept them.
He said the gunmen were planting an improvised explosive device (IED) at Sitio Linek in Barangay Digal when soldiers arrived. At least five gunmen were killed in the brief firefight that ensued at 11 p.m. Tuesday.
Galido said it was only in the early hours of Wednesday when soldiers recovered the bodies, which were later turned over to the Buluan police.
The clash occurred hours after President Duterte’s brief visit to the Army’s Camp Siongco in Datu Odin Sinsuat town, where he urged local officials to help him find solutions to put an end to terrorism being waged by groups like the BIFF.
The President said he would give local officials time to help him peacefully solve the problem of terrorism in Maguindanao and the rest of the Bangsamoro region.
But he also warned that if the problem persisted, he would be forced to order an all-out offensive.
“(T)he monkey wrench of the whole situation now is the BIFF and they continue to inflict [damage], hindi maliliit (these are not small). They continue to burn, ambush, detonate bombs, talagang a full-blown terrorism,” Mr. Duterte said in his message to local officials, soldiers and policemen.
“Ngayon, nagmamakaawa ako sa inyo tulungan ninyo ako (Now, I’m begging you to help me) because otherwise, I said if I give the order for an all-out offensive, it will be bloody and it will be sad,” he added.
Aside from the five slain BIFF gunmen, two other men involved in the BIFF’s occupation of the public market in Datu Paglas were earlier turned over by residents to the military.
Galido said Jerwali Salem Zabel and Nasrullah Abdullah Walingan were arrested at the town’s outskirts of Datu Paglas on Monday. They were held by residents living near the 109th base command of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the vicinity of Barangay Mangadeg.
“The suspects admitted they were supposed to deliver food to their companions who were being hunted by government forces,” Galido said in a statement Tuesday.
Recovered from them were two IEDs and a .45-caliber pistol.
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