The military here has placed its forces on heightened alert and deployed more foot soldiers along Maguindanao's major highways after the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) stepped up its offensive against government forces the past two days.
"We are pursuing them, we will not allow the group to sow harm to our civilians and to our troops," Army Captain Joanne Petinglay, chief of the 6th Infantry Division public affairs unit, said.
Three bombing attempts intended for Army roadside checkpoints in portions of the Cotabato City-Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao highway were carried out by the BIFF, the Army official said.
On Friday, the BIFF fired assault rifles and rifle grenades toward an Army outpost in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao.
The Army retaliated, forcing the bandits to flee with six of its wounded comrades.
On Saturday night, the BIFF again attempted but failed to overrun the detachment of the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town.
Petinglay said the bandits were forced to back off when the Army retaliated, using caliber .50 machine guns.
On Sunday night, the bandits again launched an attack to overrun the Army base in Datu Salibo, also in Maguindanao, but alert soldiers fired at the bandits before they could fire the first shot.
However, the attackers managed to lob a rusty fragmentation grenade that failed to go off.
Abu Misry Mama, spokesman of BIFF, admitted their fighters were behind the atrocities, saying it was in retaliation for the Army's offensives two weeks ago that flushed out BIFF in the borders of Pikit,
North Cotabato and Datu Piang, Maguindanao.
Petinglay said military units in Maguindanao have imposed tighter security measures to restrain the BIFF.
The 1st Mechanized Infantry brigade deployed more troops along the highway backed by armored personnel carriers to ensure the safety of commuters.
Earlier, the Army advised commuters to avoid the Maguindanao highway at night to prevent getting caught in a crossfire in case firefights erupt.