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Maute, BIFF terrorists in likely tactical alliance—military

By: - Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
/ 12:10 PM June 23, 2017
Marines capture Maute group camp-inq min-jeoffrey maitem-isis-ph-0308

In this March 7, 2016 file photo, soldiers from the Philippine Marines capture a camp believed held by the local terror ISIS-inspired clan, the Maute Group, in Lanao del Sur (FILE PHOTO BY JEOFFREY MAITEM / INQUIRER MINDANAO)

(Updated, 2:23 p.m.) The military on Friday said a tactical alliance between the Maute Group and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) “is very possible” amid the two extremist units’ recent attacks in Mindanao.

“As far as tactical alliance is concerned, that is very possible. And we have seen that in some operations wherein BIFF fighters are sending information not just to Maute but other local terrorist group in the country,” Brig. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, deputy commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command, said during the televised Mindanao Hour briefing in Davao City.

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Gapay said both Maute and the BIFF have pledged allegiance to the extremist Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) sometime in 2015.

BIFF members on Wednesday stormed a village in Pigcawayan, North Cotabato and took five residents as they fled from government troops pursuing them.

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READ: BIFF rebels leave village

Gapay said the threat posed by the BIFF was not as serious as that of the Maute Group’s.

“It’s not as serious as the one we’re fighting in Marawi,” he said.

Though the stronghold of the BIFF was already contained, the official said the military will “sustain operations against the BIFF until they are decimated.”

“Just like the Maute Group, BIFF, being a local terrorist group, is also a target of military operations,” he said.

 ‘Desperate’ threat

Gapay also dismissed as “desperate” the threat of the BIFF to kill Duterte.

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READ: BIFF: Davao is next; Duterte marked for death

“That pronouncement of the BIFF is desperate pronouncement because what happened in Pigcawayan recently was in retaliation and somehow a diversionary attack resulting from the setbacks, major setbacks they have been experiencing in their stronghold in Maguindanao, specifically the SPMS box, because our forces there have intensified their operations against the BIFF,” he said.

SPMS box refers to the adjoining towns of Shariff Aguak, Pagatin (Datu Piang), Mamasapano and Shariff Saydona

“The Armed Forces is not only operating in Marawi but we have several operations ongoing all over Mindanao, addressing various terrorist groups and one of these is BIFF. What happened there is a retaliatory attack and it’s not connected with the Marawi operations,” he added.

Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella also dismissed the threats of the BIFF against Duterte.

“The fact is there is really no ground support for them. The local Muslim community, the Maranaoas especially, do not want this. There is no ground support for them,” Abella said.

He said the BIFF was an isolated group “brilliant in media manipulation.”

“However, they do not have the necessary support coming from the ground itself.

The Palace official said the BIFF couldn’t carry out an attack against the President.

“As expressed, as shown, based on results, no,” he said. IDL/rga

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TAGS: Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, biff, Extremism, Gilbert Gapay, Marawi, Maute, Military, Terrorism
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