BIFF says new offensive ‘not meant to sabotage GPH-MILF peace process’

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/1 March)—Clashes erupted anew between the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the military Friday night, with the former claiming the attack “was not meant to sabotage the Mindanao peace process.”

Three BIFF fighters were killed and three soldiers were wounded during the 30-minute gun battle, said Col. Edgar Gonzales, commander of the Army’s 1st Mechanized Brigade based in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao.

The BIFF fighters harassed the camp of the Army’s 2nd Mechanized Battalion at around 11:55 p.m. Friday in Crossing Salvo in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town, he said.

Citing accounts by residents, Gonzales said their comrades took the dead BIFF rebels as they retreated.

Abu Misry Mama, BIFF spokesperson, “denied that the attack was meant to sabotage the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro,” the final peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) expected to be signed within this month.

“It is a non-issue for us whatever they will sign. Our struggle will continue. The attack has nothing to do with that [comprehensive compact agreement],” Mama said.

The BIFF, which broke away from the MILF, is claiming to fight for the establishment of an independent Islamic state in Mindanao.

He claimed that several soldiers were killed during the attack, which the military immediately refuted. Mama also denied the BIFF suffered fatalities as reported by the military.

Mama said the BIFF fighters fired at least 30 rounds of M-79 grenade launchers towards the camp of the 2nd Mechanized Battalion.

He noted the BIFF has splintered into smaller groups following the recent law enforcement operations conducted by government troops at their enclaves in Datu Piang and Datu Salibo towns.

Gonzales said they have tightened their security measures in the area even as he belittled the BIFF as “not having enough military capability and just more on propaganda.” (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)

URL: http://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2014/03/01/biff-says-new-offensive-not-meant-to-sabotage-gph-milf-peace-process/

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