Maguindanao clashes leave 2 soldiers hurt

By Edwin Fernandez

July 2, 2018, 6:02 pm

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – Clashes between government forces and Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) erupted Sunday in three adjoining municipalities of Maguindanao and left two soldiers slightly injured.

Capt. Arvin John Encinas, Army’s 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, identified the injured as Staff Sgt. Alfredo Tambo and Private First Class Ian Cajeta, both of the Army’s 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion (MIB).

Encinas said the injured soldiers were part of a team that responded to harassments by the IS-linked BIFF in Barangay Elian, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, around 2 p.m., where the terrorists attacked the soldiers’ armored personnel carrier. Separate attacks were also noted in far-flung military detachments in Shariff Saydona and Shariff Aguak towns.

“The BIFF attacks that started early Sunday morning triggered the clashes,” Encinas said, adding that the group also set off roadside bombs targeting the soldiers.

On Saturday night, the BIFF set off two improvised bombs that rocked the barangay hall of Barangay Timbangan in Shariff Aguak town. No one was hurt in the incident.

Encinas said troops under the 2nd MIB-1st Company conducted blocking maneuvers against the fleeing BIFF in neighboring Barangay Pamalian, Shariff Saydona town and engaged the extremists in a brief firefight.

No casualty was reported on the government side. Citing reports from villagers, Encinas said the BIFF could have suffered fatalities.

He said the national highway linking Cotabato City and the provinces of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat remains passable and safe as the skirmishes occurred in the interior portion of the three municipalities.

“Currently, more Army checkpoints were put up along the highway,” Encinas said.

Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana, 6th ID chief, said the Army will continue to hunt down the BIFF even up to the marshlands of Maguindanao, where the lawless group is reportedly hiding.

At least 200 families from three towns have fled to safer grounds but have returned home when fighting slowed down Monday. (PNA)