AMPATUAN, Maguindanao: Police authorities here blamed the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) for the ambush of law enforcers serving of search warrants against Ampatuan Mayor Rasul Sangki in a remote village that resulted in fierce firefight.
Senior Supt. Agustin Tello, Maguindanao provincial police director, said the armed hostilities in Barangay Saniag, Ampatuan on Thursday sparked a fierce firefight that left four suspected BIFF fighters killed and seven soldiers wounded.
Police and the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion were helping the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (CIDG-ARMM) locate Sangki, one of the local executives President Duterte publicly named as among the narco-politicians.
Sangki has denied he was a drug lord and offered to submit himself to an investigation to clear his name.
Tello said the BIFF belonging to the Kagi Karialan faction admitted they fired at the approaching lawmen but denied that they suffered four fatalities.
Both Tello and the CIDG could not say whether Sangki, now a fugitive, was with the group.
Barangay Saniag is about five kilometers east of Barangay Salman, site of the 2009 Maguindanao massacre.
Tello said hostilities also ensued in Salaman village when Sangki’s followers armed with assault rifles and grenade launchers, opened fire on government forces closing in their hideout to serve him a warrant of arrest.
The wounded infantrymen were identified as Sgt. Remulta, Cpl. Raffy Matingkal with Privates Eldie Mallorca, Erwin Mistoso, Alden Cahoy, Harold John Dionisio and Jerusel Castañeda.
About 50 families belonging to the Teduray tribe were housed at the Poblacion gymnasium and given assistance by the ARMM Humanitarian Emergency Action Response Team (HEART), according to spokesperson Myrna Jo Henry.