6 BIFF men, soldier killed in Maguindanao clashes – Army
CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – Six gunmen of a breakaway faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and a soldier were killed in a series of clashes in Maguindanao on Tuesday, the Army said.
Four soldiers and 10 breakaway BIFF men were also injured in the fighting that erupted at 4:30 a.m. in Barangay Pamalian in Shariff Saydona town, according Col. Lito Sobejana.
Sobejana, the commander of the Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade, said fighting continued until noon. He confirmed that the military used two MG-520 attack helicopters in support of ground troops and to retrieve wounded soldiers.
Sobejana said the BIFF forces involved in the clashes were under Kagi Karialan, who had proclaimed himself as the new BIFF leader. Karialan earlier ousted Commander Bungos, a trusted lieutenant of BIFF founder Ameril Umra Kato, who had died a few months back, as BIFF chair.
Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the 6th Infantry Division, urged Commander Karialan to voluntarily surrender to the government to avoid further bloodshed.
“It would be best that they surrender so that there will be no more bloodshed,” Pangilinan said in a statement.
Both Sobejana and Pangilinan said the remains of the slain BIFF gunmen had been retrieved and had been turned over to local officials so that their relatives can claim them.
As this developed, members of the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team, the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front ceasefire committees have proceeded to Sharif Saydona to ensure that no misencounter would take place between government forces and the MILF.
Abu Misri Mama, spokesman of the original BIFF disowned Karialan’s operations against Army troops. “We have no hand in this encounter, we are not part of it,” said Abu Misri Mama, who labeled Karialan’s group as a breakaway faction.
BIFF itself broke away from the MILF in 2008 over ideological differences in the handling of the peace negotiations with the Philippine government. SFM
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