COTABATO CITY: Government forces captured three small camps of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters as the military offensive entered its third day in Maguindanao and North Cotabato borders.
The Army’s 6th Infantry Division have launched air and ground assaults against the BIFF to aid the police in serving warrants of arrest against rebels facing various criminal offenses.
“The rebels were forced to abandon their strongholds and divided into smaller groups to avoid detection,” Colonel Dickson Hermoso said.
Hermoso, 6th ID spokesperson, said evacuees told troops on the ground in Datu Piang that the BIFF fled during the first day of artillery attacks, leaving their camps which served as perimeter defense to a bigger camp in the marshland.
Two soldiers belonging to the 45th Infantry Battalion have been slightly wounded in a brief encounter near a riverside BIFF camp in Datu Piang.
They were among the four Army battalions pursuing about 1,000 BIFF members and confined them in one area in the marshland.
More than 10,000 individuals have been displaced by the fighting in the towns bordering Maguindanao and North Cotabato.
Concerned government agencies have been attending to the internally displaced persons. Pikit and Midsayap, were among the towns in North Cotabato where IDPs converged. In Maguindanao, the affected towns were Datu Piang, Datu Shariff Saydona and Sultan sa Barongis.
Army personnel, backed by armored personnel carrier also secured portions of the Cotabato-General Santos highway and Cotabato-Davao highway.
The number of checkpoints were doubled along major highways.
Hermoso said they are grateful to the MILF for cooperating by providing the Army enough room to maneuver during the offensive against BIFF.
“Our tactical activities against the BIFF are being coordinated closely with the MILF, they secure civilian communities,” Hermoso said. PNA