4 BIFF members killed in artillery fire – MILF

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PIKIT, North Cotabato (MindaNews/22 Feb) – Four members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were killed in artillery attacks directed at the borders of Maguindanao and North Cotabato on Saturday, a source from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said.

The Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion artillery units based in Barangay Gli-gli, Pikit fired dozens of howitzers toward Barangay Kabasalan, one of the villages occupied by the BIFF since last week following a clash with the MILF.

Commander Sekak, a lieutenant of MILF commander Jack Abas, said four BIFF fighters were killed in the Army artillery offensive at about 1 p.m. Saturday.

Residents of Gli-gli said the military’s artillery offensive started at about 6 a.m. and ended at 3 p.m.

Col. Noel Clement, 602nd Infantry Brigade chief, the artillery fire was part of their clearing operations after the BIFF occupied Barangay Kabasalan.

“We want to normalize the situation by driving away the BIFF deep into the Liguasan marsh,” he told reporters.

Mohaqher Iqbal, MILF chief peace negotiator, said the Army coordinated their offensive with the MILF forces on the ground.

The BIFF reportedly burned several houses in Sitio Balibet, Barangay Buliok in Pikit, just two kilometers away from Kabasalan.

Abas said he has no rido (family feud) with the leadership of the BIFF but his former comrades should move away from his area of coverage.

He said the MILF is against the BIFF’s alleged practice of setting off improvised bombs in North Cotabato.

“Malakas ang pwersa ng Army kasi may kanyon sila (The Army is stronger because of their artillery) but we are not backing off,” Abu Misry Mama, BIFF spokesperson, said.

He also denied four of his men were killed in the shelling.  “Only two, only two BIFFs were martyred.”

On Friday night, one MILF fighter was killed when the BIFF exploded a cellphone-triggered improvised bomb in Barangay Kalbugan, Pagalungan, Maguindanao.

The MILF recovered seven improvised explosive devices which they detonated by setting them on fire. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)

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