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Top BIFF commander killed in Maguindanao clashes–military

/ 05:05 PM January 31, 2014

Ameril Umra Kato, the leader of newly formed Islamic group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (2nd from left), shouts along with his fighters “Allahu Akbar” as they raised their weapons in this file photo taken in the jungles of Datu Unsay town in Maguindanao. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–A top lieutenant of Ameril Umbra Kato, leader of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, was one of the fatalities of the series of clashes between Moro rebels and the government forces in Maguindanao, the military said Friday.

Commander Hassan Indal, known as “Tambako,” was killed in a close air support operations by the military on Thursday, Colonel Dickson Hermoso, Army’s 6th Infantry Division spokesperson said.

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Hermoso said the clashes killed at least 52 rebels and 49 wounded. He said 19 of the fatalities had already been identified, including three child warriors.

On the military side, a soldier had been killed and 13 wounded.

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The fighting started on Monday after the police backed by military troops served the arrest warrant for BIFF members facing criminal charges.

The clashes also came two days after the government signed a peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The BIFF is the breakaway group of the MILF.

Meanwhile, Major Dante Gania, Army’s 6th Infantry Division public affairs officer, said they have received intelligence reports that Kato is already “very sickly.”

“His spokesman is saying that he is okay, he is still strong, but we have not seen him for a long period of time. Last year we haven’t seen him or heard from him,” he said.

“We heard he has several illnesses because of complications and high sugar levels. We invited him to get treatment in a hospital here in Camp Siongco to save him…We are also appealing to the relatives of wounded BIFF (rebels) to send them to our hospital. We will treat them,” Gania added.

The intermittent fighting in parts of Maguindanao also caused 10,000 residents to flee. The operations, which was originally scheduled to last until Wednesday, was extended up to Saturday following the approval of the Ad Hoc Joint Group, the ceasefire mechanism between the government and the MILF.

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TAGS: Ameril Umbra Kato, Armed conflict, biff, hassan indal, Maguindanao, Military, peace process, Regions
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