CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – Ten combatants of the Daesh-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were killed in ongoing clashes with military troops in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao, the Army here said Thursday.
“Military pursuit operations are ongoing but locals confirmed that the retreating BIFF radicals have carted away their dead comrades,” Lt. Col. Anhouvic Atilano, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6ID) spokesperson, told reporters here.
Atilano said the clashes also left two soldiers killed and 13 other troopers of the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion (57IB) wounded.
Several locals have offered information to pinpoint where some of the BIFF extremists were hurriedly buried near the encounter area, he added.
“We suffered two fatalities, and the BIFF also has 10 dead fighters,” Atilano said in a separate radio interview. He identified the fatalities as Privates 1st Class Jovit Sarno and Raymond Canlog, both of the Army’s 57IB.
Soldiers under the 57IB were conducting law enforcement operations in Barangay Penditen, Datu Salibo, Maguindanao at 5:50 a.m. Wednesday when the skirmishes erupted.
“Our troops were verifying reports from villagers about the presence of gunmen in their community when an armed confrontation ensued that lasted for more than five hours,” Atilano said.
Sporadic clashes went on throughout the night, the Army official said, adding the soldiers clashed with the group of BIFF sub-commander Hassan Imbal under the BIFF Abu Toraife faction.
Citing village officials, Atilano said more than a dozen other BIFF guerrillas were also injured in the clashes.
Atilano said Imbal’s group was behind the series of bombings in Maguindanao, North Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat, including attacks against soldiers and police manning quarantine checkpoints.
The 13 soldiers wounded in the skirmishes were admitted at the 6ID’s station hospital, he added.
All Army units in Maguindanao have been placed on heightened alert, especially inside and around the adjoining towns of Shariff Aguak, Pagatin (Datu Saudi Ampatuan), Mamasapano and Salibo or known in the military jargon as “SPMS Box” — the areas frequented by BIFF terrorists. (PNA)