SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: A recent series of air strikes launched by the Joint Task Force (JTF) Central in Maguindanao province killed at least 10 bandits belonging to the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
The province was the subject of recent air strikes that were limited to enemy positions unlike in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, where civilian houses were destroyed in military bombings.
“The air strikes [in Maguindanao]were employed by our operating troops with the end state of destroying the strongholds of terrorists, thus, depriving them of means to support their nefarious ploys, which are not limited to their IED-making activities and training of recruits,” Major Gen. Arnel dela Vega, JTF Central commander, said.
IED refers to improvised explosive device.
Elements of the 57th Infantry Battalion reinforced fighters of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces-Moro Islamic Liberation Front (BIAF-MILF) who were engaging factions of the Islamic State-linked BIFF in Barangay Tee, Datu Salibo.
Aside from the 10 BIFF casualties, an undetermined number of BIFF fighters was wounded, the military said.
Meanwhile, two BIAF-MILF members were also killed in a clash with the BIFF fighters, identified as Butukan Bungayen, alias Mantukan Bungayen, and Jojo Sampayan.
Western Mindanao Command commander, Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, said Philippine Air Force assets also launched a series of air strikes targeting BIFF lairs as MILF members continue to engage the bandits in Datu Salibo.
Galvez clarified that the military action will not be limited only to combat operations but also non-combat and humanitarian efforts to prevent recruitment of the youth and other vulnerable sectors.
JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL