MIDSAYAP, North Cotabato: About 500 families here who fled their homes when Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) harassed several villages of Midsayap, North Cotabato Thursday, have started returning home, officials on Friday said.
Relief distribution by the local government unit is underway as the displaced families slowly returning home.
Superintendent Reynante delos Santos, Midsayap police chief, said most of the displaced families have returned home Friday morning.
Midsayap Mayor Romeo Arania has ordered relief distribution to some 300 families from Barangay Polomogen now temporarily housed in Barangay Bual Norte, also in Midsayap.
Other displaced families from two sub-villages, about 225, are now housed in Barangay Malingao center.
About 50 BIFF men first harassed Barangay Baliki, near the border of Midsayap and Datu Piang, but alert soldiers and infantry men repulsed the attackers who fled toward Barangay Polomogen en route to northern Kabuntalan area in Maguindanao.
Delos Santos said an improvised explosive device, made of 81 mm mortar with cellphone as mobile phone as trigger mechanism, was recovered by Army bomb experts.
“The bombs were for pursuing soldiers,” Delos Santos said.
Midsayap has returned to normalcy but police and military forces remained on alert.
“We have reports BIFF will carry out diversionary tactics like setting off bombs in the town center, so we are on alert,” he said, adding that some BIFF are already in town with explosives.
Colonel Dickson Hermoso, speaking for the 6th Infantry Division, said the recent harassment by the BIFF has bearing with the submission of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law to Philippine Congress.
After clearing operations, 10 BIFF guerrillas and two soldiers were killed while more than a dozen other bandits were hurt and carried away by retreating gunmen. PNA