Army launches artillery attacks vs BIFF camp in Maguindanao
COTABATO CITY, Philippines–The military on Monday launched artillery attacks against members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) believed to be responsible for the harassment of two Army detachments in the borders of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat that left two soldiers dead and three others wounded, the Army said.
Lieutenant Colonel Markton Abu, commanding officer of the 33rd Infantry Battalion, said his men were conducting clearing operations in the marshy portion of Gen. SK Pendatun town in Maguindanao where the BIFF maintained a camp.
Abu said the offensive was an offshoot of the harassment Saturday morning by BIFF forces in two Army detachments in Barangay Katiko, President Quirino town in Sultan Kudarat.
“We have reliable information the BIFFs are threatening the civilians because it is harvest time,” Abu told reporters.
“We have persistent information that they are just roaming around the woodland and marshy area and anytime, they will attack the civilian farmers as harvest time is coming. They used to steal the harvest from unarmed farmers and for that, we are securing the civilians,” he said.
About 50 BIFF rebels simultaneously attacked the detachment in Barangay Kulasi in General Salipada K. Pendatun town in Maguindanao and Sumilalao detachment in Barangay Katiku, President Quirino, Sultan Kudarat province, where one soldier was killed and three others were wounded.
As the rebels retreated, they attacked another Army detachment in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, leaving another soldier dead.
Abu Misri Mama, speaking for the BIFF, admitted his men attacked the two Army detachments on Saturday.
On Monday morning, Mama said dozens of howitzers hit the marshland but none of his companions were killed in the offensive.
“It rained mortars here, we are on the defensive position,” he said in a phone interview.
Major General Edmundo Pangilinan, commanding general of the 6th Infantry Division, has called on the civilians to provide the Army with information about the presence of BIFF forces in their communities to preempt lawless elements’ attempts to extort from farmers.
Pangilinan did not say how many BIFF rebels were killed or wounded in the Army offensive.
“These people are spoilers of peace and they continue to destroy the Army’s peace initiatives and reach-out programs to poor people of Maguindanao,” Pangilinan lamented.
On Sunday, Pangilinan led his men in according heroic honors to two slain soldiers before they were sent to their respective families.
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