SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: Philippine Army soldiers shot dead a senior member of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and wounded another in an encounter on Wednesday in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
The Army’s 40th Infantry Battalion (IB) was patrolling in Barangay Tukanalipao when BIFF gunmen led by sub-commander Darco and certain “Bitok” attacked them, triggering he clash.
Darco, a key follower of Imam Bongos, leader of one of three factions in the BIFF, was killed in the initial exchange of gunfire that also wounded Bitok, according to the police.
Lt. Col. Gerry Besana of the Army’s 6th Civil-Military Operations Battalion said members of the 40th IB recovered from the scene a rocket launcher, a fragmentation grenade and a shotgun that the fleeing BIFF militants left behind as they retreated.
The troops found scattered along the escape route of the fleeing BIFF gunmen materials for improvised explosive devices.
The BIFF group that clashed with soldiers was on its way to Datu Piang to reinforce their comrades that guerrillas of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have been trying to neutralize since August 1.
The MILF is locked in a bloody conflict with a third faction in the BIFF, led by Esmael Abdulmalik.
The MILF’s offensive against Abdulmalik and his men was launched in accordance with its peace agreement with the government – the March 27, 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro.
JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL