6 soldiers wounded in BIFF grenade attack during blackout

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 17 April) – Six soldiers were wounded, one in serious condition, when suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters harassed two Army detachments in Maguindanao on Thursday night and Friday dawn.

Capt. Joann Petinglay, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said the attack on Thursday night happened at the 23rd Mechanized Company detachment in Barangay Pagatin, Datu Salibo, Maguindanao at the height of a blackout.

The attackers used two rifle grenades in the harassment that left six soldiers wounded.

“The BIFF has regrouped and conducted harassment against our troops,” Petinglay said. “At the height of the law enforcement operation, they could not conduct attacks because they were on the run… We expect them to harass our positions now,” she said.

The attackers fled when the Army returned fire, Petinglay said.

Sgt. Joel Octaviano, one of the wounded, said his team had just finished dinner when the power went off, then followed by three grenade explosions.

“We believe the BIFF intentionally cut off power lines then fired rifle grenades at us,” he added.

“The brownout only occurred in our detachment, then explosions followed,” Octaviano said.

Petinglay said at past 4 a.m., the BIFF harassed the Army base in Barangay Magaslong, Datu Piang, Maguindanao.

An improvised explosive device fashioned from a 60 mm mortar round was also set off by the attackers in front of the detachment. Nobody was hurt in the dawn attack.

Petinglay said it was the second day that the BIFF “made noise” since the death of BIFF chair Ameril Omra Kato and the assumption of Sheik Ismael Abubakar.

She said the BIFF apparently wanted to show it still exists.

Abu Misry Mama, speaking for BIFF, did not confirm or deny the attack but said, “This is our answer to their claim that our group has no more capacity to launch counter attacks.”