BIFF attacks NorthCot town; DepEd orders suspension of classes

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 21 June) – Suspected Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) attacked an Army outpost in a village in the municipality of Pigcawayan, North Cotabato early morning Wednesday, police said.

Chief Insp. Realan Mamon, municipal police station chief, said the armed group traveled from the marsh in nearby Kabuntalan and Northern Kabuntalan towns in Maguindanao and went to Barangay Malagakit in Pigcawayan where they attacked an outpost of the 34th Infantry Battalion.

The attackers, according to the 34IB, were led by a certain Commander Aguila of the BIFF.

The exchange of fires led a number of families in Barangay Malagakit to flee, according to Mamon.

The 34IB, along with staff from the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management of the Pigcawayan LGU, reportedly led the rescue of these families and brought them to the town’s poblacion, particularly at the multi-purpose building, as their temporary shelter.

Others are housed at Barangay South Manuangan, also in Pigcawayan, and at Barangay Panatan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

None was believed wounded or killed on the government side, Mamon said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education (DepEd) in Region 12 said that the armed clashes caused the disruption of classes in Pigcawayan and neighboring Midsayap town.

In a text message, DepEd 12 spokesperson Antonio Maganto said classes were suspended in two elementary schools in Barangay Rapacon and Malingao in Midsayap, North Cotabato. These villages are adjacent to Barangay Malagakit.

He said DepEd 12 also ordered suspension of classes at all levels in Pigcawayan’s west district due to the ongoing clashes between government forces and the BIFF.

Maganto also reported that a school in Barangay Simsiman, also in Pigcawayan, was ransacked by the armed men.

He said they based their report on a statement issued by the security guard assigned at Simsiman High School that said the attack happened around 4 a.m. on Wednesday. The still unidentified guard, according to him, managed to escape and sought refuge at the nearest military detachment at Barangay Malagakit.

The reports from DepEd 12, however, have yet to be verified, according to Mamon.

“So far, based on our monitoring, no school in our area of responsibility had been attacked by the BIFF members,” he said in an interview over DXND. Malu Cadelina Manar / MindaNews)