Alert status intensified after BIFF harassment in Maguindanao
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.
(PNP) Chief Director General Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa.