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Army division commander visits front line as Army-BIFF trade mortars

Local News • 22:51 PM Thu Mar 3, 2016
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By: 
Ferdinandh Cabrera

DATU SALIBO, Maguindanao – Four more soldiers were killed as clearing operations against lawless elements in Maguindanao intensified the past two days.Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the 6th Infantry Division, was in the front line in Barangay Tee, Datu Salibo Wednesday as soldiers were clearing what used to be the launching pad of outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).Pangilinan was visiting the front line forces of the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion when sporadic skirmishes erupted before 12 noon Wednesday. The BIFF was still firing mortars toward Army positions as of Thursday morning,” Capt. Joann Petinglay, 6th ID spokesperson, said.Pangilinan and his team had just arrived in the village of Tee at 1 p.m. Wednesday. As soon as he disembarked from an Army vehicle, two improvised bomb explosions came in succession.As he monitored through military radio, he heard a soldier seeking assistance as four of them were hit by BIFF bombs beside a creek in Barangay Tee. Then, another explosion. (The writer accompanied Pangilinan in the frontline - editor) Minutes later, the fourth IED went off as heard through military radio set.This prompted Pangilinan to shell enemy positions with mortars and air strikes. For about an hour, two MG-520 attack helicopters were pounding the area with rockets while ground troops and military ambulance evacuate the four wounded infantrymen from Barangay Tee to the 6th ID base in Maguindanao. We have gained control of the BIFF stronghold but it was littered by improvised bombs, so it is very dangerous both for our troops and civilians,” Pangilinan said, adding that the Army has not issued the green light for IDPs’ return. Once we clear the community of bombs, then we can safely say the civilians can return home,” he told reporters.Sgt. James Joloro, among the four wounded soldiers, said he was leading a team when he stepped on one of the IEDs. I stepped on it followed by a light blast,” Joloro told reporters. Luckily, the 60 mm mortar main charged did not explode, only the blasting cap,” he added. This is our second life,” Joloro said.Since the fighting began on Feb. 4, about 40 improvised bombs have been detonated, defused and exploded in Barangay Tee and its environs, reports from the 6th ID showed.Four soldiers perished while 25 others were injured due to IED blasts and BIFF’s rifle grenade attacks.About 40 BIFF were believed killed during the month-long fire fight, the 6th ID said.Colonel Lito Sobejana, 601st brigade chief, said a Philippine Marine contingent has arrived in Datu Salibo to augment Army units.Colonel Mel Budiongan, 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade commander, said advance troops who first entered the BIFF former stronghold found shallow graves of killed fighters.He said grounds troops did not touch the graves but put markets in honor of the dead,”

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