UPDATE 2: Suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) raided a school in Pigcawayan, North Cotabato on Wednesday morning, trapping 70 civilians whom police have rescued, according to reports gathered by The Manila Times.
The school in Barangay (village) Malagakit in the town of Pigcawayan, is the scene of a clash between the armed men and members of the Philippine Army’s 34th Infantry Battalion that started at 5:45 a.m. The bandits were reportedly retreating from the scene.
The rescued civilians were evacuated by joint local government units and Pigcawayan police to the town’s multi-purpose building.
Pigcawayan police, in an initial report, said checkpoints have been set up and were coordinating with the military to determine the bandits’ plans.
In a televised interview early Wednesday, Pigcawayan Mayor Eliseo Garsesa said there were about 200 armed men.
Asked whether the military and local officials were aware of the attack, Garsesa said that there were intelligence reports circulating through text messages Tuesday night that the “armed groups were coming”.
Garsesa said, however, that authorities have been receiving a lot of similar text messages, which needed to be verified.
Garsesa said Pigcawayan was composed of Christian and Muslim residents who lived together in peace.