Military praises MILF for anti-terror cooperation
COTABATO CITY – The Philippine military praised the rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front for its cooperation in the ongoing operations against members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters allied with the Islamic State.
“The cooperation of the MILF leadership in adhering to the provisions of the ceasefire agreement was also acknowledged as the conduct of the military operations had been coordinated to ensure that no skirmishes between the government troops and BIAF occurred,” said Major General Arnel dela Vega, commander of the 6th Infantry Division.
The acronym BIAF stands for “Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces”, the MILF’S military wing.
Dela Vega’s statement came out after the MILF stayed away from last week’s fighting between the BIFF and security forces on Wednesday that killed one gunman and left one army soldier wounded in the village of Tukanalipao in Maguindanao’s Mamasapano town.
Troops also recovered an M16 automatic rifle, a shotgun, a hand grenade and an anti-tank rocket, including assorted ammunition and improvised explosives left behind by BIFF forces.
The town is a known stronghold of the MILF and BIFF whose forces had killed 44 police commandos during a clandestine operation that targeted Malaysian bomber Zulkifli Abdhir alias Marwan.
Zulkifli’s hideout was deep inside MILF territory where commandos managed to kill the foreign militant, believed to be under the protection of the rebel group.
While about to reunite with their unit, members of the Special Action Force, were trapped after MILF and BIFF gunmen attacked them and eventually killed all of them. The army also did not attempt to rescue the embattled commandos, saying, it was unaware of the police operation.
Those who managed to escape the attack were able to bring one of Zulkifli’s fingers and handed it over to Federal agents for DNA test to confirm his true identity.
The MILF, which signs an interim peace agreement in 2014, declined to surrender those involved in the brutal attack on the commandos.