COTABATO CITY  -- Military and police authorities here disclosed Monday the discovery of a mass grave of members of ISIS-inspired group in a remote village in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao.

The discovery came after government forces and its allies, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), overran a stronghold of the jihadists Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) Esmael Abdulmalik faction in Barangay Tee.

When the camp was captured last week, government forces also recovered the remains of ISIS member later identified as Ansari Alimama, who, according to Senior Supt. Agustin Tello, Maguindanao police director, was from Butig, Lanao del Sur and is related to Maute brothers.

Recovered at the camp were four rifles, improvised bombs and black ISIS flag.

Capt. Arvin John Encinas, speaking for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, told reporters that the Army and MILF Task Force Ittihad (Unity) found a mass grave for BIFF-ISIS group in Barangay Tee.

“At least 10 persons were buried in the grave site,” Encinas said. The Army did not dig the grave in deference to Islamic tradition. Local religious leaders put up markers so as not to desecrate the burial site.

Tello said while recovered cadaver had been identified, no one has claimed it so the local government officials of Datu Salibo buried the remains at sitio Butalo, Barangay Sambolawan, Datu Salibo, Maguindanao.

Threats remained high as long as the ISIS-inspired armed group is still in Maguindanao.

Tello said the police will continue its coordinative efforts with the military against the jihadists in Maguindanao’s second district.

Earlier, an improvised bomb was set off by BIFF in Tambunan Bridge in Barangay Tambunan, Guindulungan, Maguindanao that the police said was part of diversionary tactics by the militants.

Armed hostilities in the adjoining towns of Shariff Aguak, Pagatin (Datu Saudi town), Mamasapano and Salibo, more known in the military as “SPMS box” started in late August when the group of BIFF leader Abdulmalik tried to influence MILF controlled areas.
The ISIS-inspired group tried to hoist the black flag but the MILF protested. Shooting started when the BIFF set off an IED that injured 10 MILF in Barangay Tee.

The MILF retaliated and killed 11 BIFF. Since then sporadic skirmishes continued with the Army siding with the MILF as per provisions of the 1997 GPH-MILF ceasefire agreement.

In the agreement, the MILF and the government forces must get rid communities of lawless elements, private armed groups and kidnappers. (PNA)