ZAMBOANGA CITY – Moro rebels attacked a military base in Maguindanao late Friday and ambushed a government reinforcements, killing a number of soldiers.
Abu Misry Mama, spokesman for the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement, said the group’s fighters launched the attack on the Army’s mechanized brigade near Datu Saudi Ampatuan town, surprising troops in the barracks. He said they also attacked a military reinforcement on the highway and claimed killing an unspecified number of soldiers.
“We brought the war to their doorstep. Brave mujahedeen attacked the military base and also ambushed soldiers trying to reinforce the beleaguered troops of the mechanized brigade. Our fighters killed several soldiers and we have no casualties,” Mama told The Manila Times by phone from his headquarters in the province.
Mama said the attack was ordered by Sheik Mohidin Animbang, new leader of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement and its armed wing Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, in retaliation to continuing military offensive against them in the province.
“The military attacked our members who were just farming in the province and so we launched our own offensive,” Mama said, adding the raid was carried out by an elite team with grenade launchers and automatic weapons.
“At least 30 rounds of grenades have been fired into the camp,” he said.
The military said no soldiers were killed in the attack and citing intelligence reports claimed that three rebels were slain in the fighting.
The rebel group – founded by Ameril Umra Kato – split with the main Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is negotiating peace with Manila.
Kato accused MILF chieftain Murad Ebrahim of abandoning their fight for an independent state in Mindanao and vowed to pursue an independent Muslim homeland in Mindanao.
The rebel leader has criticized Ebrahim for talking peace with the Aquino government which insisted on granting wider autonomy to some four million Muslims in Mindanao.
Kato is facing a string of criminal charges in connection with the series of attacks that he led after the failed signing of the Muslim homeland deal in 2008 between the MILF and the government. The Supreme Court declared the accord as unconstitutional and the aborted deal triggered a series of deadly attacks by Kato’s forces in Mindanao.