‘BIFF commander, 3 Moro rebels killed, 7 hurt in clash with Army in Maguindanao’
CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao — At least four rebels were killed and seven others were hurt as fighting between government forces and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) resumed Tuesday.
Fighting erupted at about 8 a.m. near the road leading to the Datu Salibo town from Datu Saudi Ampatuan town, both in Maguindanao, forcing government forces to close portions of the highway.
“Roads were closed for the safety of the public,” Insp. Noel dela Cruz, Datu Salibo town police chief, told reporters.
Col. Felicisimo Budiongan, commander of the 1st Mechanized Brigade, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that among those killed was BIFF commander Mamandra Guino, also known as Abu Sufian.
Budiongan said Guino died when his group clashed with soldiers around 10 a.m. in the village of Sambulawan in Datu Salibo town.
“The number of enemy fatalities came from the civilians themselves,” he said.
“The rebels have split into two groups. One was monitored heading toward the area of Pikit (in North Cotabato), while the other stayed to block the implementation of the dredging project,” he added.
Abu Misri Mama, BIFF spokesperson, confirmed Guino was killed, and was the lone fatality.
Capt. Joann Petinglay, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said Tuesday’s firefight erupted when government forces on board armoured personnel carriers (APCs) forced their way into the dredging site where the two dredging equipment were torched by the BIFF.
The BIFF fired several sniper shots using the Barret Cal. 50 as six military APCs were moving forward.
The Army retaliated using cal. 50 and cal. 30 machineguns.
On Monday, Mama told the Philippine Daily Inquirer they would shoot anyone coming closer to the project site where the two backhoes were stalled.
Quoting reports from the grounds and intelligence information, Lt. Col. Warlito Limet, of the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion, said two-way radio communications monitored by the Army showed the rebel fatalities could be more.
Thousands of civilians have deserted the villages of Butalo, Tee and Sambolawan, all in Datu Salibo, since Friday when the BIFF tried to take over the project site.
Mama admitted they attacked the workers and the equipment because the project proponents failed to settle right of way claims of land owners.
The project, funded through the development funds of Maguindanao 2nd district Rep. Zajid Mangudadatu, aims to establish a flood control canal to spare farmlands and residential areas during rainy season.
Since February 5, when the fighting started, at least three soldiers have been wounded, while more than 10,000 civilians have evacuated to safer ground.
The BIFF broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2008. SFM
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