Friday, January 9, 2015

Army prepares for BIFF retaliatory attacks after capture of rebel camp

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 9): Army prepares for BIFF retaliatory attacks after capture of rebel camp

The Army’s 6th Infantry Division has alerted Thursday all its units around Maguindanao province as it gears for possible retaliatory attacks from outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

This after the military captured a major BIFF camp in the borders of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat and the death of five BIFF fighters whose bodies were recovered by soldiers early this week.

Soldiers have hoisted the Philippine flag in the five hectare BIFF training camp after elements of the 33rd Infantry Battalion launched mortar and ground assaults.

Abu Misri Mama, BIFF spokesman, on Thursday vowed to launch retaliatory attacks against the military following the fall of its camp in Barangay Midpandakan, Gen. SK Pendatun, Maguindanao.

Captan Joanne Petinglay, chief of the 6th ID public affairs unit, down played Mama’s pronouncement, saying it was a propaganda to project BIFF is still intact.

Colonel Markton Abu, chief of the 33rd IB, led the calibrated police action in Gen. SK Pendatun to help the police in neutralizing the lawless elements who have been extorting farmers in the adjoining villages of President Quirino town in Sultan Kudarat and Gen. SK Pendatun in Maguindanao.

It also came after the bandits simultaneously harassed two Army detachments in Barangay Katiko, President Quirino that left two soldiers killed and three others wounded.

Capt. Petinglay said at least 20 BIFF were killed, five of whom were recovered at the camp site after the Army offensive while the other fatalities were taken by the guerrillas deep into the marshland of Maguindanao.

Abu said the BIFF had been using the camp as launching pad for its harassments against military forces and civilian farmers.

”They threatened the farmers if their demand for food supplies and resources are ignored,” Abu told reporters.

Aside from farmers, the BIFF from the captured camp were also mulcting and harassing a multi-national Cavendish banana plantation in nearby town of Tulunan in North Cotabato.

Petinglay said 6th ID chief Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan has ordered military units in Gen. S.K. Pendatun and nearby towns to secure areas vulnerable to BIFF attacks.

The BIFF, composed of former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels, was blamed for bombing bus companies, multinational firms and public places in Mlang and Kabacan, North Cotabato and in Bukidnon.

Following the fall of BIFF camp, more checkpoints were set up along major highways in Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato.

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