MILF, BIFF clashes in Maguindanao displace thousands of civilians

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PAGALUNGAN, Maguindanao: The clash involving Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters has taken its toll on Moro civilians, the same group that these two armed organizations vowed to protect.

Thousands of civilians with their valuables from five remote villages here and in nearby Pikit, North Cotabato, fled toward the town center as rival Moro armed groups figured in fierce fire fight since Saturday night.

Territorial dispute triggered the firefight, according to Commander Jack Abbas of the MILF.

Abbas said the BIFF under Commander Kagi Karialan intruded the MILF territory in the village of Kalbugan, Pagalungan town in Maguindanao last week.


Since the fighting has already claimed one MILF commander, civilians fear the conflict will turn into a bigger war.

Experiences in the past dictate them that they have to leave their homes to safer grounds as both armed groups were poised to finish off each other.

Mothers, fathers and their children carrying valuables that they can haul marched toward the town center. Many walked through kilometers of dirt road here while others boarded jeepneys, tricycles and bicycles to leave the war zone quickly.

The local government compound here where offices and a covered court were located became a huge evacuation site as thousands seek refuge since Saturday evening until Sunday night.

Civilians are still fleeing Monday morning, according to police and social welfare officials.

Others stayed in relatives homes while majority stayed at the town gymnasium and Mahad (Islamic schools) in adjacent Pikit town.

“Fighting never ceases since Saturday night, our village officials told us to leave,” Pagalan Usman, a 45 year old farmer from the village of Kalbugan, Pagalungan, said.

“We expect bigger war since one MILF commander was killed, his followers will surely get back at the BIFF,” Surumanan Sitti Ager, a 55-year-old mother of six, said.

Initial estimates on the number of displaced families were pegged at 2,000 but the number could go higher as more civilians were fleeing.

Citing report from the 7th Infantry Battalion based in Pikit, Capt. Joanne Petinglay, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said Datukong Ampuan alias Commander Falcon of the MILF 108th base command was killed in a clash with the group of BIFF Commander Kagi Karialan.

Speaking through his mobile phone, Abu Misri Mama, BIFF spokesperson, claimed four other MILF were killed when they attacked the group of BIFF on Saturday night.

Petinglay said the BIFF-MILF clash site was about 15 kilometers from Poblacion Pagalungan and Pikit.

She said the Army are on stand by and did not interfere in the infighting but took steps to secure the civilians. PNA

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1 Comment

  1. nice. as expected, give guns to morons, and it’s only a matter of time before they start shooting each other.