Gov’t troops, BIFF clash anew in Maguindanao

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/10 June) – Four rebels were killed and several others were wounded as fighting erupted anew in Maguindanao between government troops and members of a breakaway Moro rebel group, the military said.

Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesperson of the 6th Infantry Division said the encounter occurred in Barangay Libutan, Mamasapano town from 5:40-7:30 a.m. Tuesday between the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIFF) and 45th Infantry Battalion.

Hermoso said the encounter also led to the arrest of four suspected BIFF members.

Lt. Col. Donald Hongitan, commander of the 45IB, and Col. Gener del Rosario of the 1st Mechanized Brigade led pursuit operations against the BIFF under Commander Bongos.

Bongos reportedly staged the ambush last June 6 using an improvised explosive device that killed a soldier and wounded three others.

The soldiers were aboard a KM450 truck in barangay Maitumaig, Datu Unsay Ampatuan town when the ambush occurred.

Hermoso said that in Tuesday’s clash government troops recovered an HM 50 cal. Barret Sniper rifle, a 60mm mortar tube with base plate and bipod, several IEDs, and a Toyota Grandia van which was believed to be stolen.

The BIFF broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) over disagreements on the peace negotiation with the Philippine government.

The government and MILF signed on March 27 this year the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao by 2016.

The agreement needs a law passed by Congress. In a joint statement Tuesday, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa and Bangsamoro Transition Commission chair Mohagher Iqbal said the draft of the law will be submitted to Congress when it resumes sessions on July 28. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)