From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 29): BIFF resorts to diversionary tactic
Police and military authorities in Maguindanao said the twin explosions of improvised bomb in Datu Odin Sinsuat (DOS), Maguindanao on Wednesday was a diversionary tactic by ISIS-inspired group that has been the subject of air strikes and artillery fire from the military.
Senior Supt. Agustin Tello, Maguindanao police director, told reporters after a joint peace and security joint coordinating meeting of police and military in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao that the explosion set off by Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Barangay Semba injured two soldiers, a police officer and a village chair.
“This is the signature armament of the BIFF,” Tello said of the twin explosions.
The BIFF Esmael Abdulmalik faction has been the subject of joint Army and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) offensives. About 60 BIFF had already been killed and about 25 on the side of the MILF which is fighting alongside with the Philippine Army.
According to Colonel Diosdado Carreon, commander of the Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade, the strength of the BIFF Abdulmalik faction is dwindling.
He estimated the remaining members to about 40 to 45 and the military will continue hunting them with the MILF’s Task Force Ittihad (Unity).
Fighting between former comrades, MILF and BIFF, erupted in early August after the ISIS allied group headed by Abdulmalik tried, but failed, to hoist ISIS black flag in communities identified with the MILF.
Army and MILF became partners against the BIFF as contained in the 1997 ceasefire agreement where the MILF must help the government in getting rid of lawless elements and terrorists in Maguindanao and other areas.
The BIFF bolted out of MILF in 2008 due to ideological differences.
According to Tello, the Maguindanao police will always support the military campaign against BIFF Abdulmalik faction who, according to intelligence reports, had been aided by Malaysian and Indonesian terrorists.
More Army and police checkpoints have been established in Maguindanao major highways as the government expects the BIFF will set off bombs to divert military offensives.
On Tuesday, the Army foiled bombing plot in North Cotabato with the arrest of Muslimin Ladtugan with power explosives in a raid in Midsayap, North Cotabato.
Ladtungan, a bomb expert of the BIFF Abdulmalik faction, was out to set off bombs in populated areas of the province as diversionary tactics, according to Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, commander of the 6th Infantry Division based in Maguindanao.