COTABATO CITY: Fighting between government forces and renegade Moro rebels erupted Monday dawn in Maguindanao that also displaced several families.
The military blamed the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a renegade band of about 1,000 armed men, who periodically harassed Army installations in Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato the past three years.
Col. Dickson Hermoso, speaking for the regional military unit and inspector general of the 6th Infantry Division, said BIFF armed men separately attack military detachment in Barangay Dumablas, Datu Piang and Barangay Ganta, Shariff Saydona, both Maguindanao towns known as bailiwick of the ragtag group.
At past 12 midnight, about 50 heavily armed BIFF harassed the Army base in Barangay Dumablas, triggering two hours of firefight.
About an hour later, another band of BIFF attacked the patrol base of the Army in Barangay Ganta, triggering about an hour of skirmishes.
”There were reports of casualties on the rebels side but the information is still sketchy,” Hermoso said, adding that about 30 families have evacuated from Barangay Ganta.
The twin attacks came hours after government forces found and properly defused an improvised explosive device fashioned from 81 mm mortar with mobile phone as triggering device left by suspected BIFF at a roadside near an Army base in Barangay Lower Salbu, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao.
Hermoso said the military has been anticipating BIFF atrocities during the fasting month which add up to civilians difficulties since they fast form sunrise to sunset.
”They are into silly propaganda out to discredit the military in Maguindanao,” Hermoso said, citing pronouncement made by BIFF spokesperson that the attacks on a banana plantation in North Cotabato was triggered by the alleged abduction of a father-son tandem.
”This is mere and simple propaganda which is very absurd,” Hermoso said. He denied the Army in Barangay Meta, Datu Saudi Ampatuan abducted the father and son tandem.
The displaced families are now being attended to by the local government units. PNA