Air strikes launched vs Dawlah Islamiya in Maguindanao

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 2 May)—The military has launched air strikes and ground assaults on a suspected lair of the Dawlah Islamiya in Datu Piang, Maguindanao del Sur dawn on Tuesday.

Municipality of Datu Piang, Maguindanao del Sur. Map courtesy of Google

Residents of Barangay Magaslong and neighboring villages in Datu Piang were awakened by the strong rumbling sounds of attack helicopters and fighter jets after government troops launched the offensive attacks aimed at Dawlah Islamiya “bomb couriers.”

The military said it was part of the ongoing manhunt operation against the terrorist group behind the bombing of a bus in Sultan Kudarat province two weeks ago.

“This is a follow up operations against those behind the Isulan bus bombing,” Brig. Gen. Oriel Pangcog, commander of the Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade, told reporters Monday.

Pangcog said based on intelligence information, they monitored the group gathering and apparently planning again to launch terror attacks.

“We received information that they met at the target place so we made this operation,” he added.

Pangcog said the area is far from the civilian populace and thus no evacuation took place.

It was followed by artillery attacks using 105mm Howitzers.

Following the pre-dawn strike, Pangcog said clearing operations by ground troops are ongoing.

“We could not say as yet if there were casualties,” he said.

Mellan Sayutin, women and children advocate for Moro civil society groups and resident of nearby town of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, said via Messenger that residents have not yet recovered from the trauma due to the infighting between Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters last week, and then reliving the experience so soon after.

“Imagine we were awakened again because of the loud disturbing sounds. How can our children grow healthy in this environment? How can we have normal lives when we have not yet recovered our recent losses?” she lamented.

Maj. Gen. Alex Rillera, commander of Army’s Sixth “Kampilan” Division and Joint Task Force Central, said that before last month’s bus bombing in Isulan, they also monitored the movement of the group and immediately launched an operation in the borders of Pagalungan and Datu Montawal, Maguindnao del Sur and Pikit, Cotabato that resulted in the recovery of eight assembled IEDs from a temporary encampment of the group.

But he said that some of the IEDs were already smuggled in before the soldiers could intercept them.

In a follow-up operation, Riller said they managed to kill one of the suspects and apprehended his cohort.

“It’s not everyday that you can escape the authorities. We will get you one by one,” Rillera warned the terror group. (Ferdinandh Cabrera / MindaNews)