Three soldiers were killed and two others were wounded when suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) under the Bongos or Ismael Abubakar faction launched simultaneous attacks on Thursday in Cotabato City and Maguindanao.
The first attack happened past noon along Sinsuat Avenue, in front of Superama Hyper Market Rh10 Cotabato City. Killed in the attack was SSgt Levin Lardera, of the 6th Infantry Division in Camp Siongco, Maguindanao.
The victim was onboard a black Honda motorcycle heading back to the camp when unidentified gunmen riding in tandem shot him several times with a cal. 45 pistol.
He was rushed to Cotabato Regional Medical Center but was declared dead on arrival.
The second attack took place in Barangay Sambolawan, Datu Salibo, Maguindanao around 4:45pm when several assailants waylaid a red car carrying young soldiers.
Killed were Private Nelier Jhon Pinti and Private First Class Junard Estribor, both assigned at the 57th Infantry Battalion. Private Muqtadir Sampulna and an 18-year old female civilian named Resty Alvarico were wounded.
PO2 Nassrolah Gani, case investigator of Datu Salibo police said they recovered 49 empty shells of 5.56 mm ammunition at the crime scene.
This type of ammunition is used for various firearms, including the M16 rifle series.
Gani said they brought the victims to the hospital in Shariff Aguak but Pinti and Estribor died from the severe gunshot wounds.
The police investigator blamed the incident on the BIFF.
“Yes we did it, our men were behind the attack to avenge one of our comrades killed by government troops yesterday,” Abu Misry Mama, spokesperson of the BIFF Bongos faction, confirmed in a phone interview.
Mama was referring to a certain Boy Naltive, who was killed in Barangay Butalo, Datu Salibo on Tuesday. The BIFF blamed his death on the military.
Abu Amer, spokesperson of the BIFF Karialan faction, also said in a phone interview that the Bongos faction was responsible for the two attacks.
The BIFF is a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that reportedly pledged allegiance to the ISIS in 2014.
MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim heads the Bangsamoro Transition Authority which will serve as interim government of the new autonomous region in Mindanao until the holding of regular elections in 2022.
This came after the ratification of the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in a plebiscite held on January 21 and February 6 this year, a development that concluded the political component of the peace agreement signed between the government and the MILF in March 2014.
However, the BIFF and other so-called extremist groups remain a security concern in the region. (Ferdinandh Cabrera/MindaNews)