COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/09 March) – Four guerrillas of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were killed in another clash late Saturday with government forces in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao, the military said.
6th Infantry Division spokesperson Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay said one of the bodies of the slain guerrillas was found wearing the uniform of the PNP Special Action Force.
“The dead cadaver wearing the SAF uniform could be one of the BIFF forces who were involved in the Mamasapano incident,” Petinglay said.
Forty-four SAF troopers were killed in a clash with Moro rebels on Jan. 25 in Mamasapano. Eighteen Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels and five civilians also died in the encounter. The BIFF did not say if there were casualties on their side.
Petinglay said the bodies of the dead rebels were turned over to the local officials of Mamasapano for burial.
She said army soldiers recovered one mortar and three firearms from the encounter site in Barangay Pusao, Mamasapano.
The military said they have boxed in around BIFF rebels since the all-out offensive was launched last week.
Five brigades including the 1st Marine Brigade and 2nd Mechanized Brigade were pursuing the rebel group in Liguasan Marsh, an unforgiving terrain of marshland and rivers.
6ID chief Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan said they believed the BIFF rebels were holed up in the marshy area between the towns of Mamasapano and Datu Piang in Maguindanao.
This week’s clashes triggered a new evacuation in the town of Datu Salibo last Friday.
Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao Health Secretary Dr. Ramil Masukat said 9,485 families or 47, 425 persons have been forced to seek refuge in schools which have become evacuation centers for civilians displaced by the all-out offensive against the BIFF. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)