Camp Siongco, Maguindanao―The military here is verifying reports that six of the 15 people killed in the air strikes against the IS-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters operating in this province were foreigners, an Army official said.
“There were five Indonesians and a Singaporean who are confirmed to be with the terror group and could be among the 15 fatalities,” Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division commander, told the Philippine News Agency.
“They were our primary target, and we are still validating their identities,” Sobejana said.
He said the air strikes were launched on Sunday and Monday after an aerial video confirmed the existence of a BIFF weapon and bomb factory in the middle of Maguindanao’s marshland.
Fifteen members of the BIFF faction under Commander Toraife were killed, eight others were injured and two bomb experts were arrested.
A soldier of the 33rd Infantry Battalion, who was part of the ground assault unit, was killed during the clashes Monday with the fleeing BIFF members, the military said.
Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, the head of the 33rd Infantry Battalion, said he and his men had to wade through the chest-deep waters of the Liguasan Marsh to locate concealed BIFF positions.
Cabunoc said soldiers and police were tracking the BIFF remnants in a bushy area of the marsh.
He said Army informants told him that BIFF sub-leader Salahuddin Hassan, alias “Orak,” and some foreign jihadists were trapped in the area after their boats were destroyed by the air strikes and artillery bombardment.