COTABATO CITY: Two soldiers from the 45th Infantry Battalion were killed when suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) stormed a hospital in Maguindanao on Wednesday night.
Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesman of the Philippine army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the two soldiers were manning the newly-renovated Maguindanao Integrated Provincial Hospital (MIPH) in Datu Hoffer town when the suspects attacked them about 9 p.m. He did not identify the slain soldiers until their families have been notified.
Initial reports said the suspects entered the hospital pretending as visitors to patients. They pointed their guns at the soldiers and forced them to surrender their M-16 rifles, and used the seized weapons to kill the soldiers before fleeing.
MIPH chief Dr. Tahir Sulaik condemned the barbaric acts of the perpetrators.
“We vehemently condemn the attack inside the hospital, we are open to all who seek our assistance but I was very sad they did it there,” Sulaik was quoted as saying.
The BIFF struck again on Thursday, attacking a military post in Sultan Kudarat which was believed to be a retaliation after the arrest of most wanted jihadists bomber in Mindanao, authorities said.
Maj. Dante Gania, public information officer of Army’s 6ID, said around 30 members of BIFF attacked the 38th Infantry Battalion detachment in Barangay Katiko in President Quirino town.
Gania said no casualty was reported from the firefight but a civilian identified as MacMac Salamanca, brother of Katiko village chief, was killed by the BIFF.
Gania said the victim’s Honda XR200 motorcycle was taken by the BIFF members while they were escaping towards Barangay Midkonding, Gen. Salipada Pendatun, Maguindanao, citing reports from the field.
The armed men were believed to be headed by BIFF commanders Sukarno Sapal, Edzrapel Manalasal and a certain Maganon.
Clearing operation is ongoing, he added.
Reliable sources said the two incidents could be linked to the arrest of BIFF ranking official Abi Salman, who has a P1.3 million bounty on his head.
Salman also known as Sauman Usman and Nanam was arrested on Tuesday by joint operatives in Maguindanao for multiple murder, multiple frustrated murder and attempted murder. He is among the suspects behind the bombings in North and Central Mindanao.
Aside of being member of the Khilafah Islamiyah Movement (KIM), Salman is affiliated with Basit Usman’s group called Ansarol Khilafah or Supporters of the Caliphate, the BIFF and the Southeast Asian terror group Jema’ah Islamiyah (JI) which had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria.
Salman was reportedly under the custody of the Philippine National Police.