KIDAPAWAN CITY: A government soldier and four members of a new Bangsamoro militant group were killed in a shootout at an Army checkpoint in Madalum, Lanao del Sur on Friday.
Col. Glen Macasero, commanding officer of the Marawi City-based 103rd Infantry Brigade, said in a report on Saturday that gunmen in a multi-cab and pickup truck fired at troopers from the 51st Army Battalion manning the checkpoint, killing one of them.
The soldiers returned fire, killing four of the gunmen, Macasero said.
Two of those killed were left behind in the multi-cab, he said.
“This checkpoint is fixed and sometimes not manned by soldiers. Maybe the gunmen thought that way and was surprised when they saw there were soldiers (positioned behind) the checkpoint,” Macasero said.
Macasero said the shooting had nothing to do with the MNLF or Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The Ghuraba (Strangers), a group of young Moro militants based in Lanao del Sur, claimed responsibility for the attack and admitted it lost four of their members in the clash.
“Farewell to my four dearest brothers who were chosen for Shahadah, yesterday, after slaughtering whatever they could amongst kuffars (disbelievers) with their mere handguns… Wallahi, I would have wished nothing more than… being with you, to go and meet ALLAH on such a blessed day Farewell, my dearest brothers… We shall meet in Jannat-ul Firdaws (Paradise), Insha ALLAH,” Zulbijaadeyn Alghareeb said in his Facebook account on Saturday.
Two civilian sources privy to the Ghuraba operations said the two-vehicle convoy was actually on its way to reinforce fighters of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) fighting government troops in Maguindanao and North Cotabato towns.
“Ghuraba already has some members engaged with BIFF guerillas currently operating in North Cotabato and Maguindanao,” one source told reporters.
Another source said the group’s attack was a spillover of the Zamboanga City siege.
On Thursday, a transmission tower in Kabacan, North Cotabato, was heavily damaged by an improvised bomb, triggering outages in the province.
MOH I. SAADUDDIN