14 BIFFs slain in Maguindanao clashes: Army

14 BIFFs slain in Maguindanao clashes: Army

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – Government forces killed 14 combatants of the lawless Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters while 25 others were wounded in six days of running gun battle with military troops in Maguindanao, the Army here said Tuesday.

Lt. Col. John Paul Baldomar, the 6th Infantry Division (6ID) spokesperson, said the skirmishes that started on March 18 also resulted in the wounding of three military personnel.

“Their comrades immediately buried the slain BIFF combatants according to Islamic rites,” Baldomar said, adding that villagers in the affected areas of the so-called SPMS box pinpointed the burial sites of the slain extremists.

The SPMS box is a military term for Shariff Aguak, Pagatin (Datu Saudi), Mamasapano, and Datu Salibo, where the BIFF mainly operates.

Baldomar said villagers also saw wounded terrorists being carried away by their escaping comrades who splintered to smaller groups.

He said the number of BIFF fatalities was verified and counter-checked with the village officials, military informants, and former BIFFs who now work with the government after their surrender.

Skirmishes between government forces and the BIFF erupted after villagers reported the presence of some 30 terrorists in Barangay Kitango, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, at 10 a.m. on March 18.

Several homes were also fired at by rifle grenades by the BIFF in the village to divert the troopers’ attention to the Army’s 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade.

“They used a birthing clinic as launching pad in trading bullets with the Army,” Baldomar said.

He said the soldiers managed to thwart on the same day a plot by the BIFF to assault a Joint Peace and Security Team (JPST) outpost in the village.

A JPST outpost is manned by composite teams from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Army, and police deployed to function as peacekeeping forces in six government acknowledged MILF camps in Central Mindanao.

Meanwhile, government disaster officials said at least 5,000 families have been displaced by the hostilities and are now being attended to by relief agencies and international relief organizations.

The internally displaced persons (IDPs) are scattered in various evacuation sites in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Shariff Saydona Mustapha, Mamasapano, and Shariff Aguak, according to the Ministry of Social Services and Development of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (MSSD-BARMM).

Joining the MSSD in extending food and non-food items are the BARMM Rapid Emergency Action on Disaster Incidence (READi), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Health Organization for Mindanao, Oxfam, and CO Multiversity (COM).

MSSD Minister Raisa Jajurie said other than food and non-food aid to displaced families. The MSSD personnel have also been providing psychosocial intervention to the affected families, she added.

Baldomar said the clashes had become sporadic and that military clearing operations are ongoing in the affected areas. (PNA)

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