Publish in Philstar.com
NORTH COTABATO, Philippines - The brigand Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) on Thursday simultaneously attacked Army detachments in Midsayap, North Cotabato, causing widespread panic in surrounding villages.
The soldiers manning the detachments in Midsayap’s Barangays Polomogen and Baliki, and another near Barangay Indatun in Northern Kabuntalan, Maguindanao managed to drive the attacking bandits away after heavy exchanges of gunfire.
Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesman of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said no one from among the soldiers assigned in the detachments was killed or injured.
“But the incident triggered panic among peasant families in surrounding areas,” Hermoso said.
Hermoso said the Army’s 40th Infantry Battalion, which has jurisdiction over Midsayap and Northern Kabuntalan towns, deployed more combatants in the detachments that came under fire to forestall a repeat of the BIFF incursions.
Abu Misry Mama, spokesman of the BIFF, confirmed to reporters that their forces were indeed responsible for the latest attacks in the two towns.
Local officials said the BIFF attacks were meant to show the group’s opposition to the on-going peace efforts of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The founder of the BIFF, Saudi-trained cleric Ameril Ombra Kato, started as chief of the MILF’s 105th Base Command, but was booted out in 2010 due to insubordination and other offenses.
The BIFF is not covered by the government-MILF 1997 Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities.
The group, which is fighting for an Islamic state, is opposed to the creation of a Bangsamoro self-governing entity based on the final peace accord between the government and the MILF, the March 27, 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro.