3 BIFF rebels killed, 2 soldiers hurt in Maguindanao clashes
DATU UNSAY, Maguindanao – Three members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters were killed while two soldiers were injured when hostilities erupted here on Wednesday, the military and local authorities said.
The renewed hostilities sent about 200 families to safer ground, disaster officials said.
The military’s 34th Infantry Battalion, under Lt. Colonel Jimson Masangkay, launched offensives against the BIFF, led by Commander Bungos, after they were sighted in the outskirts of Barangay Meta before dawn Wednesday.
Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, speaking for the 6th Infantry Division, said the same BIFF group earlier harassed Army trainees of the 19th Infantry Battalion in nearby Barangay Kuloy, Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao, also on Wednesday.
Three BIFF gunmen were killed, she said.
“We were awakened by massive gunfire; we were forced to flee to the town gymnasium,” a 45-year-old evacuee said. “We left hurriedly because the gun fire were so close to us, we left some of our valuables behind,” she added.
About 200 families are now housed at the Datu Unsay public market and covered court while the military clearing operations continue.
Civilian motorists said the fighting was so close to the national highway and soldiers shut down the road network for about an hour, beginning at 9 a.m.
Abu Misry Mama, BIFF spokesperson, said his group was only defending its position in Barangay Meta.
“The military attacked us so they suffered five casualties,” he said in Filipino in a phone interview.
Mama denied his group lost three fighters but admitted that four of their men were injured in the clashes.
It was the first eruption of hostilities involving the two groups since March this year when the Army wrestled Barangay Butilen in nearby Datu Salibo from the control of the BIFF. (With a report from Karlos Manlupig, Inquirer Mindanao) SFM
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