ZAMBOANGA CITY: At least 16 were killed in recent clashes in Maguindanao between the Army and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), officials said on Monday.
Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, a spokeswoman for the 6th Infantry Division, said among those slain were four Army soldiers who fought off BIFF fighters in the towns of Datu Unsay, Datu Ampatuan and Shariff Saydona over the weekend.
She said a notorious rebel leader, known only as Commander Bisaya was killed along with two relatives of another senior BIFF leader Commander Karialan.
Kalarian’s group ambushed a military convoy escorting an ambulance transporting wounded soldiers in Elian village in Datu Saudi Ampatuan.
More than a dozen gunmen and soldiers were also wounded in the fighting, she said, adding, security forces resumed the operations against the BIFF forces on Monday after a brief lull in the fighting.
Petinglay Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, the division commander, ordered troops to continue without let-up the campaign against the rebel group blamed for the spate of attacks and bombings in the region.
“General Pangilinan ordered troops to continue pursuing what was left of the BIFF after the month-long law enforcement operation,” Petinglay said.
She said government forces will not allow the BIFF to reorganize and regroup.
Government troops have been battling the BIFF for more than two months since the military ordered an all-out offensive against the small group that broke away from the larger Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The latter group signed a peace deal with Manila last year.
It was unknown if troops recovered any of the slain rebels, but most of the military reports were based on intelligence information provided by villagers in those towns.
The BIFF continues to fight for an independent Muslim state in Mindanao.