DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/23 Aug) – A civilian was killed while three others were wounded when members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) attacked a military detachment in Barangay Inug-og, Pikit in North Cotabato around 1 a.m. Thursday, the military said.
Lt. Col. Benjamin Hao, commanding officer of the 7th Infantry Battalion, told MindaNews over mobile phone that around 15 BIFF members attacked the soldiers who were conducting a checkpoint along the national highway.
But a report from the Pikit municipal police station said around 400 BIFF rebels crossing the national highway noticed the 7IB checkpoint and then engaged the soldiers in a firefight.
The firefight lasted for about an hour, Hao said, leaving a civilian killed identified as Anwar Langalen, 34. He could not say yet if Langalen was killed in the crossfire or killed by the BIFF members, but the police report confirmed that Langalen was “shot to death” by the rebels.
Two soldiers were wounded while another civilian identified as Ody Servidad, a nurse at the Cruzado Hospital in Pikit, was wounded after she was hit by a stray bullet.
A police report identified the wounded soldiers as one Pfc Morales and Rafael Palomar, a member of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu).
Hao said that this band of rebels could be a part of the bigger group that the military has been monitoring in the past three days after they retreated from Maguindanao.
The national highway was immediately closed to traffic when the firefight started. It was reopened around 2 a.m., Hao said.
The military detachment is less than a kilometer away from the Pikit town proper and in front of a Mahad, an Islamic school, which is a populated area.
Pursuit operation is now ongoing against the BIFF rebels.
In Maguindanao, the family of five-year-old Asmaira Usman buried the girl who was hit by a stray bullet last Monday during a BIFF attack on a military detachment.
The bullet first hit the left leg of the girl’s father, Mujahid, then the bullet travelled further to hit Asmaira. Both were asleep when the stray bullet hit them, Mujahid said. “She hadn’t even had the time to cry,” he said. (Keith Bacongco with reports from Ferdinandh Cabrera / MindaNews)