PIKIT, North Cotabato: Four members of the renegade Moro rebel groups in Maguindanao and North Cotabato were killed in the Army artillery offensive Saturday, rebel leaders said.
The Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion fired dozens of mortars and 105 howitzers toward Barangay Kabasalan, an outskirt village of Pikit occupied by the BIFF after trading bullets with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) since last week.
MILF sub commander Tiple Sekak, citing information from MILF forces near Barangay Kabasalan and Bulol, both in Pikit, said four BIFF were killed when a 105 howitzers landed near them.
Army Colonel Noel Clement, commander of the 602nd Infantry Brigade, who supervised the Army offensives, said the artillery fire was part of the clearing operations of the Army after the BIFF occupied Barangay Kabasalan.
“We would like to regain control of Barangay Kabasalan and all other villages nearby from BIFF occupation,” he told reporters.
The BIFF have fled toward the marshland leaving Kabasalan. An Army intelligence officer said the BIFF torched more than 20 houses as they fled toward Sultan sa Barongis, Maguindanao via one of the tributaries.
On Friday night, the BIFF set off an improvised bomb in Barangay Kalbugan that left one MILF fighter killed.
Seven other IEDs with mobile phone as trigger mechanism were recovered by MILF fighters and were detonated by setting them on fire.
The Army’s 6th Infantry Division could not ascertain on the number of fatalities on the BIFF side.
Mortar shelling continues as of posting. PNA