Cotabato airstrikes vs IS supporters launched
KIDAPAWAN CITY—The military on Wednesday launched airstrikes targeting two remote villages in Carmen town in North Cotabato province after an Islamic State (IS)-inspired group was seen gathering in the area, police and military officials said.
Capt. Arvin John Encinas, speaking for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the airstrikes were launched against the group of Esmael Abulmalik, alias Commander Abu Torayfe, who was seen with his men in the forested borders of the villages of Tonganon and Bentangan, both in Carmen.
Encinas on Wednesday said they had not received reports of casualties from the strike. Two attack helicopters pounded the area with rockets on Wednesday morning. The attack lasted for about 45 minutes.
Army and police sources said about 10 “high value targets” were with Abulmalik, an Imam and leader of a faction of IS-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
They said foreign-looking armed men in black uniforms were seen with the group in the past days.
Encinas said the offensive was launched after residents reported the presence of armed men in the village.
The strikes were backed by ground troops from the 7th Infantry Battalion and artillery offensives.
Chief Insp. Julius Malcontento, Carmen police chief, said the police did not monitor any evacuation of civilians since the villages were far from populated communities. —EDWIN O. FERNANDEZ
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