Friday Apr, 10 2020 05:11:59 AM

Army-Dawlah clashes in upland Maguindanao towns wane

Mindanao Armed Conflict • 14:45 PM Wed Mar 11, 2020
John M. Unson
Some of the firearms, bomb making ingredients and personal things of slain BIFF recovered by government forces in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao. (6th ID photo)

COTABATO CITY --- Guns have been silent since Tuesday night in the hinterland borders of Maguindanao’s Ampatuan and Datu Hoffer towns, but evacuees are reluctant to return to their homes for fear of harassments by the Dawlah Islamiya.

The Dawlah Ismiya, also known as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, is feared for venting ire on innocent civilians for losses in encounters with state security forces.

Key members of the municipal peace and order councils in Ampatuan and Datu Hoffer confirmed Wednesday that 14 terrorists were killed in a series of gunfights with units of the 601st Brigade that cleared Upper Salman and Tuayan areas in the boundary of both towns from occupation by Dawlah Islamiya forces.

The mayor of Shariff Aguak, Marop Ampatuan, suspended classes in all public schools in barangays under his jurisdiction Tuesday due to the Army-Dawlah Islamiya encounters in upland areas in nearby Ampatuan and Datu Hoffer towns.

The military’s operation to restore government control over Dawlah Islamiya enclaves in both towns commenced on March 2, launched after local villagers reported the convergence of gunmen assembling improvised explosive devices, as if preparing for an attack.

Combined personnel of the Army’s 40th, 33rd and 57th Infantry Battalions recovered from the scene of the encounters 23 IEDs, firearms and booby traps that Dawlah Islamiya members left as they fled in haste.

The hostilities displaced more than 300 Moro and ethnic Teduray families, now confined in evacuation centers.

The evacuees are hesitant to return to their homes, apprehensive that Dawlah Islamiya bandits could return to rebuild their makeshift camps and resume with their periodic collection of “protection money” from hapless farmers.

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