AFP: 6 BIFF rebels killed, 8 others wounded in Cotabato clash
KIDAPAWAN CITY — At least six members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were killed while eight others were wounded in a clash in a Pigcawayan town village in North Cotabato province before government troops drove them out of the area on Wednesday night.
The fighting, which started at 4 a.m. when BIFF men attacked the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Teamm (BPAT) outpost in Barangay Malagakit and Barangay Simsiman, ended at about 7 p.m. with BIFF men fleeing toward the Liguasan Marsh in Maguindanao.
Mayor Eliseo Gracesa said at least 73 residents, who were trapped in the village when fighting erupted, were safe.
Capt. Arvin John Encinas, spokesperson of the 6th Infantry Division, said the BIFF freed 31 hostages that included children at about 7 p.m. Wednesday.
“Clearly, they were used as human shields by the BIFF,” Encinas said. “When dark came, they fled. They were afraid of air strikes if they released civilians at day time,” he added.
Captain Napoleon Alcarioto, spokesperson of the 602nd Brigade based in Carmen, North Cotabato, said the rescued civilians told the military that bodies of slain BIFF were taken by BIFF rebels who fled on board a motorized banca across the Liguasan Marsh.
Civilians also reported seeing eight BIFF members wounded during the intense gun battle which lasted up to Wednesday evening, Alcarioto added.
“We base our claim on the accounts of civilians trapped and held hostage inside the Malagakit Elementary School,” Alcarioto said by phone. “Later, they were rescued by our 34th Infantry Battalion forces.”
He said two members of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) members were wounded during the exchange of fire. GAL/rga
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