CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao: Members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) blocked the entry of local fighters of the Islamic State (IS) in a town in Maguindanao, resulting in clashes, according to The Manila Times sources.
Sources said the jihadists were on their way to attack a Philippine army unit when they were blocked by MILF members in the village of Pusao in Shariff Saydona Mustapha on Tuesday afternoon.
The clashes ended on Wednesday morning, leaving at least two wounded from the MILF rebels and six killed from the IS supporters belonging to a third faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
Arvin Encinas, spokesman of the 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 rebels.
He said the military has provided medical assistance to the wounded rebels “who sacrificed their lives against the bandits as they showed their commitment of support in the ongoing peace process with the government.”
The group of gunmen was led by Esmail Abdulmalik alias Abu Turaify, a senior members who bolted from the BIFF with several others including Basir Ungab alias Abu Bagdad, Abdulnasser Adil alias Abu Tahir, Ansari Yunos and Salahuddin Hassan.
They engaged with MILF troops headed by Abdul Karim Sinumagad and Hadjie Ali Omar of the 105th Base Command.
Encinas said the MILF has coordinated with the military prior to the clashes.
“The army has provided artillery support to flash out the enemies,” he told The Manila Times.
“The coordination and cooperation between the Joint Task Force Central, BIAF, MILF and other stakeholders in the continuing law enforcement support operation of the government against the BIFF resulted in the firefight,” he added.
Major General Arnel Dela Vega, Army’s 6th Infantry Division commander, expressed his full support, especially to the wounded personnel of BIAF, MILF.
“We wanted to prevent the BIFF from initiating terroristic actions against peaceful communities,” he said.
Three years ago, the BIFF has pledged allegiance to the IS after being convinced by the Khilafah Islamiyah Movement (KIM), but the group split into three factions, including Abdulmalik’s group, which remained loyal to the IS.
The other factions were Ismael Abubakar alias Bungos together with the recognized spokesman Abu Misry Mama and the forces of Muhidden Animbang alias Karialan with his spokesman Abu Amer. Both claimed in 2016 to have dropped their allegiance to the IS.|
The BIFF is a breakaway group of the MILF and was organized in 2008. It rejected the on-going peace process between its mother unit and the government. The group is continuously staging atrocities in Central Mindanao.
Two months ago, the group attacked two villages in Pigcawayan town in North Cotabato province including schools and churches. The Abubakar faction has claimed responsibility.
Just this week, the group 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 to the attack.