Soldier killed, 3 wounded in clash with BIFF men in Maguindanao
COTABATO CITY, Philippines – On the last day of the three-day suspension of military operations (SOMO) in Maguindanao to give way to schools’ graduation ceremonies, government forces and Moro rebels clashed anew in two areas, leaving a soldier killed and three others wounded, the Army here said.
As of 3 p.m. Sunday, fighting was still on-going in the barangay (villages) of Malangob, Datu Unsay town and in Barangay Pamalian, Shariff Saydona town, both in Maguindanao.
The fighting erupted when Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) guerrillas simultaneously attacked government forces conducting security patrol at 9:30 a.m., according to Col. Melquiades Feliciano, the 601st Infantry Brigade commander.
Feliciano said the three soldiers wounded in the encounter were rushed to the Maguindanao provincial hospital. He did not identify the slain infantryman.
Citing intelligence reports from the ground, Feliciano said the BIFF guerrillas suffered at least three dead and three wounded in the fire fight.
“Our troops were on patrol in Barangay Malangob when they were fired upon by BIFF forces,” Feliciano said. As the soldiers were battling BIFF guerrillas in Malangob, another band of BIFF fired at soldiers on patrol in the village of Pamalian, Shariff Saydona, also in Maguindanao.
The clash sites were within the so-called “SPMS box,” referring to the adjoining towns of Shariff Aguak, Pagatin (Datu Saudi), Mamasapano and Shariff Saydona, all in Maguindanao where the BIFF strongholds were located.
Abu Misri Mama, speaking for the BIFF, confirmed the clash and admitted three of his men were slightly wounded.
“Fighting is still going on,” Mama said, adding the Marines sustained four fatalities.
The 6th Infantry Division, which has been spearheading the law enforcement operations against the BIFF, unilaterally declared SOMO on Thursday to allow the staging of graduation ceremonies in conflict affected communities.
The SOMO was to end Sunday. SFM/AC
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