From the Mindanao Examiner (Dec 31): Philippine military deploys troops to hunt down rebels after fierce clashes
COTABATO CITY – Philippine troops were deployed on Saturday to hunt down Moro rebels who attacked several army posts in Maguindanao, one of 5 provinces under the troubled Muslim autonomous region, and in nearby province of North Cotabato in Mindanao, security officials said.
Officials said a huge group of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters attacked late Friday military detachments and outposts in Datu Salibo town and sparking fierce fighting that lasted until day break.
The rebels, who are fighting for a Muslim homeland, also raided military posts in Midsayap and Pigcawayan towns in North Cotabato.
The clashes forced hundreds of villagers to flee their homes for fear they would be caught in the crossfire. The army also fired artilleries on rebel positions while air force planes provided cover for troops battling the BIFF on the ground.
There was no immediate reports of rebel casualties and the military did not say if it suffered human loses in the fighting.
Just recently, a grenade attack outside a Catholic church in Midsayap town injured at least 16 people. The Christmas Eve attack was also blamed to the rebels, who earlier in that day also held several cargo trucks and used them to blockade a major highway in Maguindanao’s Guindulungan town.
The daring action by rebels was largely seen to shame authorities and clearly showed how vulnerable the province was from such assault from a group of around 200 members. There were no reports of casualties or injuries and the drivers of the trucks were released by rebels.