2 soldiers killed by BIFF in Maguindanao

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 23 Oct) – Two soldiers assigned to secure a government hospital in Datu Hoffer, Maguindanao were gunned down by suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters Wednesday night, reports said.

Dr. Tahir Sulaik, head of the Integrated Provincial Health Office of Maguindanao who also manages the provincial hospital, said that unidentified suspects acting as patient’s visitors went inside the government hospital around 9 p.m.

The BIFF rebels were reportedly able to catch the two soldiers off guard. With guns pointed at them, the soldiers, who were stationed near the emergency room, gave up their M-16 rifles, which were then used by the rebels to kill them.

The rebels left the hospital bringing with them the confiscated rifles.

“We vehemently condemn the attack inside the hospital. We are open to all who seek our assistance, but what they did here really makes us feel sad,” Sulaik said.

But he said he is still thankful no patients nor hospital staff were hurt during the attack.

Military intelligence sources suspect the BIFF liquidation squad was behind the killing and firearms grabbing.

Sources said the attack might be in retaliation to the recent arrest of one of high ranking member of BIFF, Abi Salman alias Sauman Usman, believed to be a relative of top extremist bomb maker Basit Usman, who has signified his allegiance to the Islamic State (aka ISIS, Al-Qaeda separatists in Iraq and Syria).

Earlier this month, two soldiers were also was shot dead outside a catholic church in Datu Piang, Maguindanao just after a thanksgiving prayer.

The incident was followed by another killing of Maguindanaon soldier from the 33rd Infantry Battalion in a busy market in Datu Saudi Ampatuan municipality.

During the Provincial Peace and Order meeting last month, security officials said that the creation of a liquidation team by the BIFF was a desperate retaliatory move after heavy casualties in recent firefights with government troops.

Meanwhile, the military also reported an ongoing firefight between 33IB troopers and suspected BIFF rebels after the latter attacked a CAFGU detachment in Barangay Katiko in the municipality of President Quirino, Sultan Kudarat.

Col. Mel Feliciano, commanding officer of the Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade based in Tacurong City, confirmed the attack of dozens of BIFF rebels.

Reports said the nearby village of Bagumbayan is also affected and several families have started to flee.

The dead body of a brother of the barangay chairman of Katiko is reportedly still lying in the middle of the battle zone and authorities could hardly pull it out due to intense firefight.

The BIFF attackers is reportedly headed by certain Commander Magnum.