From The Gulf Today (Jun 17): Military rids Mindanao fishing area of terrorists
A senior military officer reported that continuing operations, highlighted by air strikes, succeeded in driving away Daesh-linked terrorists, including Indonesians, who have been harassing and preventing hundreds of residents from fishing at the vast Liguasuan Marsh in Mindanao.
“They are now free to do what they have to do — fish in the vast Liguasan. The terrorists have been making life difficult for the hundreds of residents whose main livelihood was fishing,” said Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc, the commander of an Army Infantry battalion.
Cabunoc explained the 220,000-square kilometre Liguasan March that straddles 29 towns in two neighboring provinces — Maguindanao and North Cotabato — where members of a “rogue” Moro rebel group called the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) have set up camps as well as improvised bomb factories to sow violence in the area..
The BIFF, which pledged allegiance to the Daesh extremists, was founded by the late veteran field commander Ameril Umbra Kato of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), who seceded due to major policy differences with the front leaders over the conduct of their peace talks with the government.
Cabunoc disclosed the military decided to launch the operations following alarming reports that the terrorists have set up camps in the marsh and threatened hundreds of residents who depended on fishing as the main source of livelihood by catching especially mudfish and catfish.
Even more alarming were reports from residents who said they saw “foreign-looking” militants with the group, who were suspected to be Indonesia bomb experts, according to Cabunoc.
Based on the reports, Cabunoc said the military decided to launch an operation against the terrorists on June 10, highlighted by coordinated air strikes and artillery fire to help the ground forces.
Since then, at least 23 terrorists have been killed with the military still confirming reports that among the fatalities were four “foreign” militants, Cabunoc said.
He added a soldier was also killed in what he considered as the “supreme sacrifice by giving up his own life” to help ensure that terrorists would no long threaten and harass the Liguasan Marsh fishermen.