The planned attack by a group of Islamic State-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters against military posts in Maguindanao was disrupted after military rockets exploded on their positions, blasting to death seven bandits and wounding several others Monday night.
The BIFF fighters whom the military authorities did not identify, were spotted gathered in an area apparently bracing for retaliatory attacks when hit by artilleries from 105mm howitzers launched by the military.
Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Battalion, said the firing of rockets against the BIFF elements under Imam Bongos was carried out after they received information from village officials on the presence of the militants in Sitio Kabasalan, Brgy. Darampua in Sultan sa Barongis at 11 am Monday.
Of the seven BIFF fatalities, four of whom were identified only throught their aliases as Amir, Badrudin, Mutalib and Abdurahman.
Sobejana said Imam Bongos, a radical cleric, leads three BIFF factions under the command of Abu Toraype.
The latest BIFF setback brought to hundreds of militants killed this year, the biggest number of which was recorded in a firefight at the villages in Salbo, Kitango and Malngog, Maguindanao where 40 BIFF fighters were killed.
“We received information from concerned civilians giving the supposed hideouts of the BIFF group planning to launch an attack. Upon verification, we conducted surgical operations in order to prevent their plan,” Sobejana said.
“These [BIFF] group are said to be equipped with improvised explosive devices against military and civilian targets,” Sobejana added.
The firing of rockets where carried out in an intermittent manner depending on verified locations of BIFF militants, which started before noon Monday and lasted until late light on the same day.
Sobejana said the bombing forced the BIFF fighters to scamper to different directions and splintered themselves into smaller numbers as they retreated to safer grounds.
He said troops did not recover any dead bodies of BIFF fighters after the artillery shelling, except for information gathered by intelligence units on the ground.
Despite the aborted planned BIFF attacks, security forces will remain on alert to prevent future aggression by the terrorist group against detachment and posts not only in Maguindanao but also in adjoining provinces, Sobejana said.