PIKIT, North Cotabato: Two civilians were killed while three others were wounded when outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) members harassed military installations in the borders of Maguindanao and North Cotabato before dawn Friday.
Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesperson of the 6th Infantry Division, identified the fatalities as Rayhana Akmad Malading, 11, and Kantoh Kaluidasan, 40 and their three wounded companions were fleeing from the scene of the encounter on board a boat when a mortar landed near them along the river in Barangay Kabasalan, Pikit, North Cotabato.
Hermoso said about 50 BIFF guerrillas attacked a detachment of the 7th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Kabasalan, Pikit.
He said the attackers were positioned on the other side of the same village but already part of Sultan sa Barongis, Maguindanao.
Elements of the 7th IB returned fire and killed one BIFF member. No casualty on the government side.
BIFF spokesperson Abu Misry Mama admitted they launched the attack against Army positions in Barangay Kabasalan but would not admit responsibility in the death of civilians.
Hermoso said the BIFF incursion in Barangay Kabasalan forced about 100 civilians to evacuate toward the side of Pikit town at 3 a.m.
Citing report from the 7th IB based here, Hermoso said the BIFF used 60 mm mortars in the harassment when the Army returned fire.
The displaced families are now housed in Kabasalan Elementary School in Barangay Kabasalan, Pikit, North Cotabato.
The BIFF is a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front which broke away in 2008. It has about 1,000 armed followers, mostly rag-tag rebels who engaged in extortion, kidnapping, robbery in band and bombing in Central Mindanao region.