CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao del Norte – Eleven members of the extremist Dawlah Islamiya (DI) were killed in a military offensive in Datu Hoffer Ampatuan (DHA) town in Maguindanao del Sur on Friday afternoon.
“The firefight, which began at 1 p.m. lasted more than three hours,” Maj. Saber Balogan, the Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade (601IBde) civil-military operations chief, said in an interview on Saturday.
Balogan said elements of the Army’s 40th Infantry Battalion (IB) conducting patrol operations clashed with an undetermined number of members of the DI-Hassan Group in Barangay Tuwayan Mother of the town.
“Artillery fires from the 40th IB and other units under the 601IBde backed the ground troops,” he added.
During the clearing operations, ground troopers recovered five M16 rifles, two M14 assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, and five improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
Balogan confirmed that 11 DI members were slain in the military operation and their remains were turned over to the DHA local government unit.
“There was no casualty on the government side,” he said, adding that no civilians were also affected as the firefight site was far from residential areas.
The DI-Hassan Group was believed to be behind the series of bombings on passenger buses in Maguindanao Sur and Sultan Kudarat over the past three years.
It was also blamed for attacks against government forces in the province.
DI batch surrender
The DHA operation came a day after 13 DI members surrendered to the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (ID) in South Cotabato province.
Maj. Gen. Alex S. Rillera, 6th ID commander and head of Joint Task Force Central, said the local extremist group surrendered on Nov. 30 with their firearms to the Army’s 5th Special Force Battalion in Barangay Kablon, Tupi, South Cotabato.
The group belonging to the DI-Maguid Group also turned in six assorted high-powered firearms and six IEDs. (PNA)