Army overruns 2 BIFF camps in North Cotabato

By Edwin Fernandez

November 22, 2017, 6:38 pm

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao—The military here overran Wednesday two camps of the ISIS-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Liberation Front (BIFF) in North Cotabato following artillery and surgical air strikes.

Capt. Arvin John Encinas, speaking for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6ID), said the 602nd Infantry Brigade found the twin camps of the BIFF faction of Esmael Abdulmalik alias Commander Abu Toraife in the villages of Tonganon in Aleosan and Bentangan in Carmen, both in North Cotabato.

Government troopers found the two camps abandoned. He could not say if there were casualties from the terrorist group during the military operations, Capt. Encinas said.

“We have reports about it but we cannot confirm since there was no body count,” he said.

The camps, Encinas said, could accommodate as many as 100 persons, has several nipa huts, running trenches and caves. Encinas could not say where the ISIS-linked group now after they abandoned their camps.

Earlier, Lt. Colonel Gerry Besana, chief of the 6ID civil military operations, said intelligence information revealed that Toraife’s group was coddling several foreign looking terrorists.

Toraife and his men left the adjoining towns of Datu Salibo, Shariff Saydona, Shariff Aguak and Mamasapano in Maguindanao last month due to massive military operations.

The Army had the backing of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in hunting down the BIFF that has sought sanctuary in the forested section of nearby North Cotabato province.

Last week, the military also launched airstrikes after the group of Toraife moved to the border of Carmen and Aleosan towns in North Cotabato. Their presence was monitored by Army intelligence in coordination with MILF.

More than 200 families displaced by the Army offensives in North Cotabato have slowly returned home, disaster officials said. (PNA)