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MILF commander killed in clash with BIFF fighters over land dispute — Army

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Fighting erupted between members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Pagalungan, Maguindanao, late Saturday, leaving a rebel commander dead, the military said Sunday.

But Capt. Jo-anne Petinglay, spokesperson for the military’s 6th Division, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the fighting had nothing to do with the Jan. 25 clash in Mamasapano town that claimed the lives of 44 police commandos, 18 rebels from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and at least three civilians.

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“The clash site was deep inside the Maguindanao marshland and both sides suffered undetermined number of fatalities,” Petinglay told the Inquirer.

She said the group of BIFF Commander Muhaidin Animbang alias Kagi Karialan and MILF Commander Jack Abas had been trading sporadic shots since last week, which sent villagers fleeing in Barangay Kabasalan, Pikit, North Cotabato.

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Barangay Kabasalan is near Barangay (village) Kalbugan of Pagalungan.

“A certain Datukong Ampuan alias Commander Falcon of the MILF’s 108th base command was killed and an undetermined number on the BIFF side were also killed,” Petinglay said, quoting a report from 7th Infantry Battalion.

Lt. Col. Audie Edralin, 7th IB chief, said the clash started at about 4:30 p.m. Saturday and ended at past 9 p.m.

He said Army intelligence operatives were still determining the number of fatalities from either side as both refused to admit fatalities.

“The fighting area was very far from the civilian populace of Pagalungan and Pikit,” Petinglay said.

Abu Misri Mama, speaking for the BIFF, said the MILF suffered five fatalities, including Commander Falcon.

“We only have two fatalities,” Mama said in a phone interview.

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Mama said the MILF under Commander Falcon initiated the firefight. About 300 families who fled Barangay Kabasalan, Pikit, North Cotabato, last week remained in several evacuation sites, according to Pikit social welfare office.

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TAGS: 6th Division, Armed conflict, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, battle casualties, clash, Datukon Ampuan, Encounter, Gani Saligan, gun battle, Insurgency, Jack Abas, Jo-anne Petinglay, land dispute, Maguindanao, MILF, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Moro rebellion, news, Pagalungan, Philippine Army, rebellion, Regions, Von Al Haq
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