• Army alerted after BIFF attacks in North Cotabato town

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    CARMEN, North Cotabato: Military authorities here have been alerted anew after Moro bandits harassed an Army base in the border of Maguindanao and North Cotabato, officials said Friday.

    An undetermined number of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) attacked a military and militia detachment in Barangay Dungguan, Aleosan, North Cotabato Thursday night, according to Capt. Calvin Macatangay.

    Macatangay, speaking for the 602nd Infantry Brigade, said no casualty was reported in the incident but the exchange of gunfire sent villagers into panic.

    ”We have placed our troops stationed in the Maguindanao-North Cotabato border because of its vulnerability to BIFF harassment,” Macatangay said.

    ”They have done that in the past, they will do it again, so we are always on red alert,” he added.

    The BIFF, a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), has vowed to launch attacks against military and civilian targets.

    Aside from harassing 38th Infantry Battalion detachments in Barangay Dungguan, the BIFF also harassed nearby Barangay Baliki of Midsayap, North Cotabato where a militia detachment was located.

    On Sunday afternoon, BIFF bandits harassed an Army detachment in Tulunan, North Cotabato that left a civilian wounded.

    Police identified the victim as Jendy Pelinte, a farmer from Barangay Popoyon, who happened to be near the detachment of 39th Infantry Battalion and Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU).

    Macatangay said about 50 BIFF forces emerging from the Maguindanao marshland positioned about 200 meters from the Army-CAFGU detachment and opened fire at past 4 p.m.

    Senior Inspector Rolly Cordero, Tulunan police chief, said the bandits fired the first shot, and the soldiers and militiamen returned fire, forcing the attackers to retreat toward the marshland.

    Pelinte who was tilling his farm was hit by stray bullets in his legs. He is now recuperating at a local hospital.

    Macatangay said the augmentation forces were deployed in communities in the borders of Maguindanao and North Cotabato where BIFF bandits regularly harass.

    Police and military authorities in the province consider BIFF as the number one threat to North Cotabato because of its frequent harassment of civilian communities in the boundary.

    Colonel Dickson Hermoso, speaking for the 6th Infantry Division, said the BIFF had been harassing Delininas plantation in Tulunan after the firm rejected its demands for revolutionary taxes.

    In previous interviews, Hermoso said the bandits have resorted into guerrilla attacks after their main base in Shariff Saydona was overran by military forces in July.

    “We expect them to move to other areas because we have captured their camp, they even attempted many times to retake Baranagay Ganta,” Hermoso said, adding that communities in the Maguindanao-North Cotabato borders are vulnerable to BIFF harassment.

    Late last week, the BIFF harassed an Army-militia detachment in the borders of Midsayap and Datu Piang but nobody was hurt.

    Hermoso said all Army units and its allies deployed in Maguindanao had been alerted for possible atrocities to be carried out by the BIFF. PNA

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