Monday Aug, 15 2022 09:00:23 PM

Police, Army tightens guard against 2 terror groups

Mindanao Peace Process • 17:15 PM Wed Jul 27, 2022
John M. Unson
 The 6th Infantry Division has jurisdiction over six central Mindanao provinces. (John Unson)

COTABATO CITY - Authorities are bracing for attacks by two local terror groups in what could be desperate attempts to project strength following the deaths of nine bomb-makers from both sides in clashes with pursuing soldiers since January.

More than a hundred members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the Dawlah Islamiya have also surrendered in batches since November 2021 through the efforts of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division and the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

Major Gen. Roberto Capulong, commander of 6th ID, said Wednesday they have intensified their backchannel efforts to secure the surrender, via backdoor efforts, of more hardcore BIFF and Dawlah Islamiya members.

“It’s better for them to come out now and return to mainstream society before it is too late,” Capulong said.

Three members of the BIFF were killed for trying to take over, along with some 80 others, a detachment of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last week.

Soldiers in the detachment, only 30 of them, repelled the attackers, forcing them to retreat carrying three dead companions and seven others wounded in an eight-hour showdown.

Local officials had told reporters the attack was meant to disprove public perception that the BIFF and the Dawlah Islamiya have been weakened by the deaths of 16 senior leaders and nine bomb-makers from both sides in clashes with units of 6th ID in the past 18 months.

Capulong said officials of their units in the adjoining North Cotabato, Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat provinces are trying their best to reach out, with the help of local executives, to hardcore BIFF and Dawlah Islamiya members to convince them to avail of the division’s local reconciliation program for religious extremists.

“We are trying to let them realize that it is better to thrive in peace with their families than become frequent targets of government anti-terror operations,” Capulong said.

Capulong and the police director of the Bangsamoro region, Brig. Gen. Arthur Cabalona, separately said Wednesday their units in Maguindanao and in parts of Lanao del Sur are guarding tightly against possible attacks by the allies BIFF and the Dawlah Islamiya.

“This time we have the support of local government units in restraining them from moving around,” Capulong said, without elaborating. 


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