Army braces for BIFF retaliatory attacks in Maguindanao

By Noel Punzalan and Edwin Fernandez

April 11, 2018, 6:12 pm

<p>Seized BIFF firearms in Maguindanao <em><strong>(Photo by 6ID)</strong></em></p>

Seized BIFF firearms in Maguindanao (Photo by 6ID)

SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao -- The Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion (IB) based here foiled an attempt by outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) to overrun Tuesday night a military detachment in adjacent Datu Hofer town.

Undetermined number of ISIS-linked gunmen, armed with assault rifles and rocket propelled grenades, attacked at around 8 p.m. the 57th IB detachment stationed in Barangay Labo-Labo.

The gunmen simultaneously fired with rockets and assault rifles toward the Army detachment while government troops were taking dinner.

Although outnumbered, soldiers, backed by armored personnel carrier, returned fire, forcing the attackers to flee. No casualty was reported on the government side.

The attempt of BIFF came some 12 hours after the Army’s 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion overran two BIFF camps, including a gun factory, and recovered high powered firearms in Shariff Saydona Mustapha, Maguindanao.

Maj. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, Army’s 6th Infantry Division commander, said the recovery of the arms cache has weakened the BIFF operating in Maguindanao.

The recovery of high powered guns and explosives came after government forces clashed with the group of Commander Bongos in Barangays Pamalian and Pagatin, both in Shariff Saydona Mustapha town.

Two BIFF were confirmed dead, two others injured, the Army said. Two government troops were also slightly injured and are currently being treated at Camp Siongco Hospital in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.

The attack on the 57th IB detachment on Tuesday night was retaliatory for the losses the BIFF has incurred, Dela Vega said.

Dela Vega said he placed all Army units in Maguindanao on high alert status as he expects the BIFF to retaliate from losses. He said the Joint Task Force (JTF) Central, which he also chairs, would utilize all available air assets, artillery as well as armor assets to thwart attempts to destabilize the province.

“We will continue our pursuit of the terror groups like the BIFF that continues to threaten the peace and security of communities,” Dela Vega said. He said the continued support and cooperation of the community hastens and compliments the ability of JTF Central to counter the efforts of the radical extremist groups in sowing fear and violence in their area of operation. (PNA)