Thursday Oct, 17 2019 01:12:12 PM

7 MILF members perish in gunfights with ISIS-inspired BIFF

Mindanao Armed Conflict • 16:45 PM Sat Oct 5, 2019
180
By: 
John M. Unson
The BIFF members pose in these two file photos while MILF rebels transport the remains if fallen comrades.

MAGUINDANAO ---Members of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters killed seven fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in a gunfight Friday in Shariff Saidona town in this province.

The MILF is silent on its reported loss even as Facebook posts about it are now viral, some even circulated by local officials in municipalities in the second district of the province.

Key Army and police intelligence officials in Central Mindanao said Saturday the two groups indeed figured in skirmishes Friday and that seven MILF members got killed in the incident.

Four BIFF terrorists were killed while three others were wounded in the ensuing hostilities, according to the sources.

The BIFF gunmen who killed the seven MILF members belong to a faction led by Esmael Abdulmalik, most known as Abu Toraife, a cleric eloquent in stoking hatred for non-Muslims in his sermons during obligatory Islamic Juma’ah (Friday) worship rites.

Abdulracman Kanda, chairman of Barangay Dasawao in Shariff Saidona, told reporters Saturday that the two groups last traded shots in Sitio Tinolusan and barrio folk have since been reporting about seeing MILF members carry seven dead companions away from the scene amid heavy exchanges of gunfire.

The MILF lost 17 members in clashes with BIFF forces in offensives almost two years ago in marshy areas in Maguindanao’s adjoining Shariff Saidona, Salibo and Datu Piang towns.

The MILF’s unrelenting anti-BIFF stance is premised on its two security compacts with Malacañang --- the 2012 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro and, subsequently, the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro --- enjoining mutual cooperation in addressing peace and security areas in troubled southern provinces.

The BIFF, which has three factions, has been trying to sabotage the current peace process between the government and the MILF, whose figurehead, Hadji Murad Ebrahim, is now appointed chief minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The newly-created Bangsamoro regional government is a product of 22 years of peace talks between the MILF and the national government.

The original founder of the BIFF, the radical cleric Ameril Ombra Kato, started as commander of the MILF’s 105th Base Command, but got booted due to insubordination and irreconcilable differences with superiors.

The BIFF is blamed for all the wanton bombings in central Mindanao since 2011 that caused the deaths of no fewer than 50 people and injured more than 200 others.

Major General Diosdado Carreon, commander of the 6th Infantry Division, said involved in the skirmishes were long-time arch-rivals who clashed Friday dawn.

“No joint law enforcement operation (LEO) but we are assisting the MILF brothers fighting for peace in marshland through mortars and other support,” he said.

The local government of Datu Saydona Mustapha is determining if there are civilians who fled their homes. (With reports and photos from Ferdinandh Cabrera)

NDBD BIDA BALITA (10.17.19)

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