‘Bakwits’ in Pikit advised to go home after joint AFP-MILF clearing operations

Want create site? With Free visual composer you can do it easy.

PIKIT, North Cotabato (MindaNews / 24 Feb) – The military given the go signal for the internally displaced persons (IDPs or “bakwits”) in this town to return home after the Army and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) cleared the village of Kabasalan and nearby communities on Monday.

These villages, occupied by members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) for more than a week, have been cleared of lawless elements and unexploded bombs left by fleeing rebels.

More than 500 elements from the 602nd Infantry Brigade and MILF fighters jointly conducted the clearing operations Monday afternoon.

A deafening silence greeted government troops while walking on foot as they entered the village of Kabasalan, the last village of Pikit, in North Cotabato’s border with Maguidanao in the heartland of the Ligawaan Marsh. The MILF members came earlier.

At least 17 houses made of semi-concrete materials were allegedly torched by the BIFF before moving toward the marshland, the Army and the MILF believe.

Though the Army and the MILF fighters used to be shooting at each other, they helped each other in the clearing operations to pave the way for the return of the “bakwits.”

A tour by Army officials, local and MILF leaders, along with the media, showed the area was indeed a battleground where newly dug foxholes and bunkers abound.

Returning families scoured the burned houses, looking for something to salvage.

Army bomb experts likewise searched the village for unexploded bombs left behind by the BIFF as they fled.

The soldiers and the MILF guerillas also found what looked like a mass grave of suspected BIFF fighters, an indication the BIFF suffered fatalities during the Army’s artillery offensive and buried their dead according to Islamic rites.

As the Army, MILF and local officials left the village, they met along the road hundreds of civilians returning home with their valuables and work animals in tow.

“We’re tired in the evacuation centers. I hope this will be our last evacuation,” said evacuee Bai Kong Adil.

“We have cleared the area. It is now safe for the civilians to return home. I deployed a team of soldiers in the area to secure the civilians,” said Lt. Col. Audie Edralin, commander of the 7th Infantry Battalion.

“I have talked to the MILF leaders. They will help the Army in securing the communities,” said Pikit acting mayor Dulla Sultan.

Jabib Guiabar, local MILF spokesperson, said his group will talk to the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) how to secure the civilians from the BIFF.

Tahira Kalantongan, head of Pikit’s Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said the returning IDPs had “pabaon” from the local government unit composed of rice and canned goods.

Did you find apk for android? You can find new Free Android Games and apps.

Comments

comments