Rebel killed in clash with gov’t troops in North Cotabato
COTABATO CITY, Philippines — A member of the renegade Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) was killed in a clash with government forces after an attack on a banana plantation in North Cotabato, on Sunday, police said.
Senior Inspector Ronnie Cordero, Tulunan police chief, said some 30 BIFF rebels stormed the packing house of the Delinanas banana plantation in Barangay (village) Dungos, Tulunan, North Cotabato, early Sunday.
An Army checkpoint nearby engaged the attackers in an hour-long firefight until the rebels fled back to the Liguasan marshland.
The BIFF rebels fired rocket propelled grenades toward the packing house.
In an ensuing firefight, one BIFF member was killed and an AK-47 rifle was recovered by government forces.
Cordero said it was the second time the BIFF harassed the banana firm. The first attack happened in February.
Abu Misry Mama, speaking for the BIFF, confirmed they attacked the plantation and admitted one of its men was killed.
He said they were after the military unit stationed in the plantation because one of the BIFF members and his son were abducted by the military in nearby Datu Unsay, Maguindanao over the weekend.
Mama claimed that Mohamad “Madz” Abdulkarim and his son, Mehan Mohammad, 14, were on board a motorcycle heading for home after selling agricultural products in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao, when they were flagged down by the 45th Infantry Battalion soldiers in Barangay Meta, Datu Unsay town, also in Maguindanao.
“It was a retaliatory attack, expect for more,” Mama said in Filipino.
He said the father and son, residents of Barangay Dapiawan, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao, remained missing to date.
The Army denied they abducted Madz and Mohammad, telling relatives that they were released after a brief inspection.
Mama said Madz was a member of the BIFF.
He said the BIFF would stage more attacks against military installations in Maguindanao and North Cotabato to press for the release of the Abdulkarims.
The BIFF broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which recently signed a Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro with the Philippine government.
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