MILF foils terrorist attack in Maguindanao

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CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao: Members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) early this week engaged members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in prolonged clashes after a faction of the BIFF, a local supporter of the Islamic State (IS), tried to enter Shariff Saydona Mustapha town here.

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Sources said the terrorists were on their way to attack a Philippine Army unit when they were blocked by the MILF members in the village of Pusao on Tuesday afternoon.

The clashes ended on Wednesday morning and left at least two wounded on the MILF side and six reported killed among the BIFF extremists.

Arvin Encinas, spokesman for the Philippine Army’s 6th Infantry Division, confirmed the clashes and identified the wounded MILF fighters as Kamsa Karinda and Naim Musiko, both belonging to the 118th Base Command of the terrorist group.

He said the military has provided medical assistance to the wounded MILF members “who sacrifice their lives against the bandits as they showed their commitment of support in the ongoing peace process with the government.”

The gunmen were led by Esmail Abdulmalik alias Abu Turaify, a senior member who had bolted the BIFF, with several others including Basir Ungab alias Abu Bagdad, Abdulnasser Adil alias Abu Tahir, Ansari Yunos and Salahuddin Hassan.

They engaged the MILF troops headed by Abdul Karim Sinumagad and Hadjie Ali Omar of the 105th Base Command.

Encinas said the MILF apparently had been tipped off on the entry of the terrorists.

“The Army has provided artillery support to flush out the enemy,” he told The Manila Times.

“Coordination and cooperation between the Joint Task Force Central, Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces [BIAF], MILF and other stakeholders in the continuing law enforcement support operation of the government against the BIFF resulted in the firefights,” Encinas said.

Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, the Philippine Army’s 6th Infantry Division commander, expressed full support to the wounded personnel of BIAF, an armed wing of the MILF, who needed medical assistance.

Three years ago, the BIFF pledged allegiance to the IS after being convinced by the Khilafah Islamiyah Movement (KIM) to do so but the group has since split into three factions including Abdulmalik’s group, which kept its loyalty to the Islamic State.

Another faction led by Ismael Abubakar alias Bungos, together with their recognized spokesman Abu Misry Mama, and the forces of Muhidden Animbang alias Karialan with his spokesman Abu Amer, claimed last year to have severed allegiance to the IS.

The BIFF, an offshoot of the MILF, was organized in 2008.

It opposes the ongoing peace process between the MILF and the government.

Last June, the group attacked two villages in Pigcawayan town in North Cotabato including schools and churches that are owned up by the Abubakar faction.

Just this week, the bandits also attacked a helicopter carrying Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu and his brother while flying over Datu Salibo town in the province but no one was hurt.

Local residents blamed the faction of Abdulmalik for the attack.

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