CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao: Government forces thwarted another attempt by the extremist Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) to sow terror in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao, the military here reported Friday.
Lt. Col. John Paul Baldomar, speaking for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6ID), said the reporting of residents to military forces in Datu Saudi Ampatuan prevented what could be a bloody attack by BIFF fighters against Joint Peace and Security Team outpost in Barangay Kitango.
A composite team from the Philippine Army, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and local police is manning the outpost and functions as peacekeeping forces in ensuring the security of residents within the six government-acknowledged MILF camps in Central Mindanao.
Baldomar said BIFF gunmen have been sighted in Kitango and repeatedly threatened to harm civilians if they refused to provide revolutionary tax to the terror group.
He said troopers from the 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade (1MIBde) encountered about 30 BIFF fighters in Barangay Kitango from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Col. Pedro Balisi, commander of 1MIBde, said upon receipt of verified reports from the residents, government forces immediately conducted clearing operations and encountered the BIFF fighters, triggering a running gun battle.
“Thanks to the help and cooperation of the residents by reporting the presence of armed men in their communities thus allowing our forces to preempt possible atrocities by the BIFF,” Balisi told reporters.
Balisi added that no casualty was reported on the government side but could also not determine if the BIFF sustained casualties.
Maj. Gen. Juvymax Uy, commander of 6ID and concurrent chief of the Joint Task Force Central, assured residents of Maguindanao that they would continue to protect communities in the province against terror groups.