Tight guarding now in Mindanao vs. rebel attacks
COTABATO CITY – Security forces have tightened its grip in Maguindanao province in the restive Muslim autonomous region and nearby areas following a spate of rebel attacks and fierce clashes in the provinces.
Troops have been battling the jihadist group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters ( BIFF) and recently clashed with members of the larger Moro Islamic Liberation Front ( MILF) in the troubled Maguindanao province.
Police and military put more checkpoints in areas where clashes had been reported, including in Cotabato City where authorities foiled a recent bomb attempt on a police station there.
Some units of the MILF and BIFF have joined forces to fight government troops and this coincided with the failure of the Aquino government to pursue the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law which would pave way for the establishment of an expanded Muslim autonomy in Mindanao.
Just last week, security forces captured Hassan Indal, a senior MILF commander who is also a top leader of the jihadist group BIFF following firefight in Cotabato City.
Indal, who uses the aliases Abu Hazam and Tambako, is currently being interrogated. Indal’s son, Ali, was killed in the fighting.
Policemen, backed by army Special Forces soldiers, swooped down on Indal’s hideout in the riverside village of Kalanganan after intelligence agents tracked him down.
The 6th Infantry Division has confirmed Indal’s capture and said he is the BIFF’s Vice Chairman for Internal Affairs and commander of the group’s 4th Division. “Indal is involved in different criminalities and atrocities in central Mindanao since 2010,” Captain Jo- ann Petinglay, an army spokeswoman, told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.
Indal’s capture came following days of sporadic clashes between BIFF forces and government troops in Maguindanao, one of 5 provinces under the restive Muslim autonomous region.
Petinglay said troops recovered one automatic rifle and ammunition, a .45- caliber pistol and a hand grenade from Indal’s hideout.
Army Major General Edmundo Pangilinan said an informant helped authorities in tracking down Indal’s hideout in Cotabato. “This is an accomplishment not only of the security forces, but the entire community because Indal is one of the BIFF leaders who continually sow terror by laying IEDs and attacking civilian communities. We are thankful for the growing awareness of the community in fighting terrorism by providing essential information for his capture, he said.
In 2014, the 6th Infantry Division had claimed to have killed Indal during a fierce firefight with troops in Maguindanao. Its former spokesman, Colonel Dickson Hermoso made the fantastic claim that Indal was among dozens of BIFF members killed in the military operations.
The BIFF, founded by MILF leader Ameril Umra Kato, is fighting for Muslim independence.