CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao: The military here Wednesday said at least 20 Moro bandits were killed and scores wounded when the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion launched mortar attacks against Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in the borders of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat.
Capt. Joanne Petinglay, chief of 6th Infantry Division public affairs unit, said the slain BIFF were taken by their fleeing comrade at the height of the offensive which also led to the fall of a major training camp.
“Civilians living near the camp confirmed to our ground troops that 20 BIFF were killed and brought deep into the marshland,” Petinglay said of the Army operation which was still going on to date.
The camp, situated in Sitio Pedtad, Barangay Midpandakan, Gen. SK Pendatun, Maguindanao was captured Monday.
Petinglay said the BIFF second division camp has running trenches, 20 bunk houses and perimeter defense and checkpoints.
Also on Monday, the Philippine Army hoisted the Philippine flag in the area which was used by the BIFF as launching pad in extorting and harassing farmers during harvest season.
”The BIFF were surprised and they hurriedly dispersed towards the marshland,” Petinglay said.
Colonel Mel Feliciano, commander of the 601st Infantry Brigade which has jurisdiction over Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat provinces, said during the operation, the government troops also recovered bomb making devices, improvised bombs ready for disposal, bullets and assorted firearms.
”Their world is getting smaller,” Feliciano said of the outlawed BIFF which broke away from mainstream Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) after the failed peace agreement in 2008.
Feliciano said more camps will be attacked in Maguindanao and other areas in the region.
The BIFF, composed of about 1,000 lawless elements was blamed for the series of bombing incidents in Bukidnon, North Cotabato and Maguindanao.
In November and December, the BIFF carried three deadly bombing incidents in Kabacan and Mlang, both in North Cotabato.
Toks Masukat, village chair of Midpandakan, Gen. SK Pendatun, Maguindanao, said at least 200 families have fled during the military offensive but they started returning home after the Army issued the green light it was safe for them to go back to their villages and sub villages.
Feliciano also lauded the villagers for providing vital information to police and military authorities which led to the military offensive.
Two soldiers were killed when BIFF simultaneously attacked Army detachments in the borders of Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao over the weekend. Three other soldiers were wounded. PNA