The number of evacuees from a raid by Muslim bandits in two towns in North Cotabato has swelled to more than 1,000 as government troops are in hot pursuit of the Muslim bandits responsible for the attack early Wednesday.
Police Superintendent Joyce Birrey, public information officer of the North Cotabato Provincial Office, said in a televised interview on Thursday that the 1,201 residents of Pigcawayan and Simsiman were housed in nearby public schools.
Birrey said a community kitchen and medical center were put up to cater to the needs of the evacuees who were forced to flee their homes after some 200 members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) swooped down on Pigcawayan and Simsiman, leaving two dead in the attack.
Birrey said, however, that the siege was over as troops from the 34th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army pursued the bandits.
Asked what the possible motive was for the attack, Birrey said it could have been a “diversionary tactic” since some government troops deployed in the province have been sent to war-torn Marawi City to augment the forces there.
As of posting time, the military is conducting clearing operations as police deployed its own personnel to monitor the national highway.