BIFF vows to launch more attacks in Central Mindanao
CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao, Philippines — The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) vowed to launch more attacks in Central Mindanao to taunt government forces in the region.
“We will continue attacking government forces, their detachments at a time they least expect it,” Abu Misry Mama, speaking for the BIFF, said in the vernacular.
Mama’s group owned up to the Christmas Day atrocities in the provinces of Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao and North Cotabato that left nine civilians killed. Four BIFF members were also killed.
“I am announcing now, we will continue our attacks against soldiers, so they better prepare,” Mama said in a radio interview.
Eight farmers were killed in the border towns of Esperanza in Sultan Kudarat and Datu Abdulla Sangki in Maguindanao when about 300 BIFF fighters simultaneously attacked farming communities early Dec. 24.
They also left four improvised bombs in their escape route, Lt. Colonel Ricky Bunayog, 33rd Infantry Battalion commander, said.
Hours after, another group of BIFF stormed Barangays Simsiman and Malagakit in Pigcawayan, North Cotabato, killing a village councilman. They also fired at a Catholic chapel during midnight mass.
Mama, who claimed they have been inspired by ISIS, said those killed in Maguindanao-Sultan Kudarat borders were militiamen, and not farmers.
Bunayog and village officials disputed Mama’s claim.
Capt. Joan Petinglay, speaking for the 6th Infantry Division, said all Army units in three Army brigades have been placed on heightened alert.
But she downplayed the “noise” created by the BIFF. “It wants to project it is still a force to reckon with after they have been reduced to a ragtag band following Army offensives in January this year,” she said in separate radio interview.
“The soldiers should be ready all the time, because we will strike any time,” Mama said as if taunting the military authorities. ‘We do not want them in our land.”
At least 200 families or about 6,000 individuals have fled their homes from the villages of Paitan in Esperanza and Kakal in Datu Abdulla Sangki. They are now housed at the Esperanza municipal gymnasium, according to Chief Insp. Bryan Bernardino, Esperanza town police chief.
“They celebrated Christmas in the town gymnasium, they return to their communities at day time but return to the gym at night,” Bernardino said, adding they prefer to stay in the gym until their security back home are assured. SFM
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