BIFF men kill lumad chieftain in Maguindanao
CAMP SIONGCO, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao – Members of an ISIS-linked armed group killed the leader of an Indigenous Peoples community in Maguindanao on Wednesday in what the military believes is a retaliation on civilians.
Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, speaking for the 6th Infantry Division here, said members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) killed Diego Met Dagadas, chieftain of a Teduday (also known as Teduray) community in the upland barangay of Firis in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town.
Besana said about 30 heavily armed BIFF gunmen, carrying an ISIS flag, barged into the village of Firis and looked for Dagadas.
As Dagadas emerged from his house, the gunmen shot him several times. He died on the spot.
Relatives of Dagadas said the gunmen set off a bomb beside the body of the tribal leader before leaving the terror-stricken village.
The murder of Dagadas came three days after the military launched air strikes at the tri-boundary of South Upi, North Upi and Datu Saudi Ampatuan, killing about 10 armed men.
The air strike was conducted after villagers alerted the military about the presence of the BIFF forces there.
This could be the reason the gunmen targeted Dagadas, said Maj. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, 6th ID chief.
Dela Vega ordered his men to intensify the manhunt against the armed men, who belonged to the BIFF faction headed by Esmail Abubakar, alias Commander Bungos.
As this developed, the military said 330 lumads had successfully hurdled military training on Wednesday to become their communities’ first lines of defense against atrocities by communist rebels and other armed groups.
The new militiamen are from North Cotabato, South Cotabato and Davao Occidental and members of the Manobo, Tagakaulo, B’laan, Bagobo and T’boli communities, according to Capt. Jerry Lamosao, spokesperson of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division based in Compostela Valley.
Lamosao said the fresh batch of CAFGU Active Auxiliary (CAA) members were trained in handling weapons.
“They have also undergone lectures, with emphasis, on respect of Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law and Rule of Law,” he said in a statement.
Col. Roberto Ancan, commander of the Army’s 1002nd Brigade, who supervised the training in Sarangani province, said “(E)ducating and training them with the basics of home defense strategies is very important specially that we are still facing different security challenges.”
He disclosed that the main purpose of the militiamen was “to protect their communities from armed NPA terrorists.”
“May their (CAA) sense of patriotism be an example not only to the tribe where they belong but also to the communities where they will also serve as ‘defenders.’ These CAAs will be part in spearheading our CSP and anti and counter terrorism efforts. Their mandate is also to protect the people and secure their communities,” said 10th ID commander Maj. Gen. Noel Clement. /cbb
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