Philippine Daily Inquirer
Army lieutenant, 13 BIFF rebels killed
CAMPSIONGCO, MAGUINDANAO— Army2nd Lt. Junibert Zonio and 13 members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were killed in clashes in Maguindanao province on Wednesday. Zunio died from gunshot wounds he sustained when his platoon engaged at least 15 heavily armed rebels. The death toll has risen to 21 rebels and two soldiers since fighting erupted on Sunday.
CAMP SIONGCO, MAGUINDANAO— An Army lieutenant and a senior leader of an Islamic State-linked Moro rebel group were killed in clashes in Maguindanao province on Wednesday, raising the death toll to 21 rebels and two soldiers since fighting erupted on Sunday.
Second Lt. Junibert Zonio, of the 40th Infantry Battalion, died from gunshot wounds he sustained when his platoon engaged at least 15 heavily armed rebels from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) at Barangay Pidsandawan, Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
Capt. Arvin Encinas, spokesperson for the Army’s 6th Division, said Zonio had been serving in the Army for just a year. “His wife was already notified,” Encinas said.
Rebel leader wounded
He said a senior BIFF leader was believed to have been seriously wounded in the clash. Troops recovered the rebel’s bloodstained firearms, he added.
A soldier was also killed in clashes in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town, Maguindanao, on Monday.
Zonio led troops from the 40th IB in blocking BIFF fighters fleeing from Army offensives in Datu Shariff Saydona, Maguindanao.
About 13 rebels were also killed in the clash, including a subleader identified as Mah Nanding, alias Commander Marrox, who was believed to be involved in the murder of 44 police officers from the Special Action Force in Mamasapano in January 2015.
“The number of BIFF killed was based on two-way radio conversations we intercepted from enemy side and from civilians and local officials,” Encinas said.
He said ground troops re- covered 14 firearms and the body of a BIFF fighter at Barangay Pidsandawan.
The firearms included four M-16s, three M-14s, two carbines, one Garand rifle, one Ultimax and three 12-gauge shotguns.
Body parts littered the ground
Citing reports from the field, Encinas said body parts littered the encounter site. He said the body parts could be from slain BIFF fighters who were carried away by their fleeing comrades.
Encinas said 15 other Army troopers had been wounded so far in the gun battles.
On Wednesday, four roadside improvised bombs were found and disarmed by Army ordnance experts in the boundary of Barangay Sepaka, Datu Paglas, and Barangay Pidsandawan, Mamasapano, as government troops were conduct- ing clearing operations.
The military operation began during the weekend, targeting BIFF leader Abu Turaipe, whose faction had pledged allegiance to Middle East-based jihadi group Islamic State.
Turaipe was believed to have escaped.
The BIFF is a splinter of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the main Moro separatist group in Mindanao that signed a peace deal with the government.
Insisting on a separate Islamist state in Mindanao, the BIFF rejected the peace accord and went on fighting while the MILF worked with the government toward the establishment of a new, bigger Moro region on the island with greater autonomy.