MANILA, June 10, 2018 (BSS/Xinhua) – Philippine security forces launched on
Sunday airstrikes and ground assault on Islamist militants’ lair in
Maguindanao province in southern Philippines, killing 15 militants and
wounding eight others.
Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, an army commander in charge of the
operations, said the pre-dawn assaults on Liguasan marsh destroyed a bomb-
making “factory” of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a
splinter group of the larger Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Sobejana said in an interview with a local media that 15 BIFF fighters were
killed and eight others wounded in the offensive. The strikes also forced
1,700 families in the area to flee.
Sobejana added that two militants were captured, adding that up to 100 BIFF
fighters were in the targeted area during the military assault.
He said the destruction of the facility where the BIFF members are making
improvised explosive devices (IEDs) is a big loss to the militants’
capability to produce bombs. Sobejana said the troops retrieved several
unexploded IEDs and firearms from the site.
“We used all our available capabilities, all available means. We employed
reasonable forces to neutralize the target,” Sobejana said.
“We hit their factory, their bomb factory exploded. It was hit by our air
assets. We employed all available air and artillery assets,” Army spokesman
Maj. Arvin Encinas said, adding that the BIFF militants were caught by
surprise by the attack and scampered to escape the assaulting troops.
BIFF split with the MILF in 2010 to fight for a separatist Islamic state
for Filipino Muslim minority in the Mindanao region. BIFF has up to 400
members, according to the military.
The BIFF is among the several militant groups in Mindanao that pledged
allegiance with the Islamic State a few years ago. They are active in central
Mindanao area, especially in Cotabato City, in Maguindanao, North Cotabato
and Sultan Kudarat provinces.