From Rappler (Jun 25): Troops capture renegade Muslim rebel camp
Government security forces overran a camp of renegade Muslim rebels after days of fighting on the border between Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao, a military official said Tuesday, June 25.
Army Col. Edmundo Pangilinan, head of the military’s 601st Brigade, said soldiers captured the encampment of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) on the border between President Quirino town in Sultan Kudarat and Gen. Salipada K. Pendatun town in Maguindanao.
He said the camp with bunkers and running trenches, maintained by guerrillas under Sukarno Sepal, one of the field commanders of BIFF founder Ameril Umbra Kato, can accommodate more than 200 fighters.
“We used 105 howitzer cannons to drive away the rebels. We have been mounting offensive against them since last Saturday (June 22),” the military commander said.
The military’s operation against the rebels was carried out following series of attacks perpetrated by the Kato’s men.
On Sunday, June 23, the rebels separately raided two military detachments in remote villages of Midsayap, North Cotabato. A civilian was wounded in the attacks.
Two days before that incident, members of BIFF also attack a camp of militiamen in the village of Bagumbayan, President Querino town, killing a state militiaman and another civilian.
“Our clearing operation in the area on-going. Civilians who were displaced by the hostilities can now return to their respective villages,” Pangilinan said.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said around 300 families were affected by the fighting.
“We provided relief goods to displaced people,” DSWD regional director Zorahayda Taha said.
Kato, the BIFF’s leader, used to be the commander of the MILF 105th Base Command. He was figured in several attacks on Christian communities, including in 2008 following the botched signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain between the government and MILF peace panels.
In August 2011, Kato’s men staged simultaneous attacks against government military detachments in the region, occupied a national highway for almost a week and harassed civilian communities.