Alert sta­tus in­ten­si­fied af­ter BIFF harass­ment in Maguin­danao

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SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguin­danao -- Sol­diers and po­lice in Maguin­danao’s se­cond dis­trict were placed on height­ened alert Thurs­day af­ter mem­bers of the out­lawed Bangsamoro Is­lamic Free­dom Fight­ers (BIFF) ha­rassed mil­i­tary de­tach­ments and set off a road­side bomb that in­jured a sol­dier.

Speak­ing for the mil­i­taryled Task Force Cen­tral, Lt. Col. Gerry Be­sana, said the bomb went off in Barangay Pobla­cion Talayan at about 6:30 p.m. Wed­nes­day as a con­voy of M35 mil­i­tary trucks was pass­ing by the area.

Pfc. Den­nis de Jose of the Army’s 6th In­fantry Di­vi­sion (6ID) Sig­nal Bat­tal­ion was hurt in the bomb ex­plo­sion.

Cit­ing in­tel­li­gence re­ports, Be­sana iden­ti­fied the sus­pects be­hind the bomb­ing in­ci­dent as fol­low­ers of Abu Nas­ria, a BIFF sub-leader op­er­at­ing in the Talayan-Tal­i­tay area.

“It (bomb­ing) was part of the BIFF’s re­tal­ia­tory at­tacks on gov­ern­ment forces fol­low­ing the re­cent seizure of their high-pow­ered guns and gun­mak­ing equip­ment,” he said.

Ma­jor Gen. Ar­nel dela Vega, 6ID chief and Task Force Cen­tral com­man­der, said the Army is ex­pect­ing the Is­lamic State-linked BIFF to launch ha­rass­ments and bomb­ings “be­cause we have dis­abled them” with the re­cov­ery of 18 high-pow­ered guns fol­low­ing air and ground of­fen­sives on Wed­nes­day.

Dela Vega also said that the BIFF fac­tions of Kagui Kar­i­alan, Esmael Bon­gos and Abu To­raife have re­united and were hold­ing a “kan­duli” (thanks­giv­ing) when the Army con­ducted an air and ground as­sault on their po­si­tion.

At about 7:30 p.m. Wed­nes­day, sus­pected BIFF fight­ers re­tal­i­ated but failed to over­run the de­tach­ment of the Army’s 57th In­fantry Bat­tal­ion (IB) in Barangay Pa­gatin, Shariff Say­dona Mustapha, Maguin­danao.

The Army re­acted and a fire­fight en­sued un­til the at­tack­ers, num­ber­ing about 15 heav­ily armed men, fled to­ward the marsh­land. No ca­su­alty was re­ported on both sides.

A day ear­lier, gun­men also ha­rassed the 57th IB de­tach­ment in Barangay Labo-Labo, Datu Hofer, Maguin­danao.

file photo

(PNP) Chief Di­rec­tor Gen­eral Ron­ald “Bato” de la Rosa.

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