SAFER GROUND. Internally-displaced families from the village of Bakat in Rajah Buayan, Maguindanao del Sur, seek refuge in the village's public school facility after Moro Islamic Liberation Front forces figured in armed clashes Tuesday (Jan. 24, 2023). At least 200 families from the village fled their homes to avoid getting caught in the crossfire. (Photo courtesy of Rajah Buayan Vice Mayor Jerry Makalay)

AMPATUAN, Maguindanao del Sur – A member of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) was killed while evacuating his family after clashes erupted Tuesday between two Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) groups in the Maguindanao del Sur town of Rajah Buayan.

Capt. Joel Lebrilla, Rajah Buayan municipal police chief, identified those involved in the skirmishes as members of the MILF’s 105th and 106th base commands who have been locked in “rido” (clan war) since 2020.

“This is due to conflict over control of vast territory in Rajah Buayan, the warring groups have agreed to an amicable settlement last September 2022,” Lebrilla said in an interview Wednesday.

The fresh encounters sent civilians fleeing from the village of Bakat, among them the family of the slain militiaman whom he did not identify to honor the family's request.

Rajah Buayan Mayor Bai Maruja Ampatuan Mastura said at least 200 families have fled to safer grounds to avoid getting caught in the crossfire.

“I was told two were injured from both sides since the fighting erupted,” Mastura said, adding that the tension has already dissipated as of Wednesday morning.

Brigadier Gen. Oriel Pangcog, the Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade commander, said the government and MILF coordinating committee on cessation of hostilities are already on the ground to pacify those involved in the “internal conflict.” (PNA)