Camp Siongco, Maguindanao—Another bombing attempt in Mindanao has been foiled after government troops killed two suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in a firefight near a bridge linking North Cotabato and Maguindanao on Friday afternoon.
The slain were part of a group under BIFF Commander Esmael Abdulmalik alyas Abu Torayfe, which was transporting three improvised explosive devices (IEDs) through the Kabacan River that would be detonated in Kabacan, North Cotabato.
Torayfe’s group was responsible for the twin bombings in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat that killed five people last week, Col. Alfredo del Rosario, commander of the Philippine Army’s 602nd Infantry Brigade, said in text messages to reporters.
Three civilians were also wounded in the clash as the ISIS-inspired group exchanged fire with government forces at around 3 pm Friday.
One BIFF member, identified as Mohamid Kambilan, was arrested and was being interrogated at the Army base here.
Soldiers brought the injured civilians, who lived near the river bank of the encounter site, to the Kabacan hospital.
The encounter near Tunggol Bridge in Datu Montawal, Maguindanao was part of government forces’ pursuit of the ISIS-inspired elements after they received intelligence reports that the BIFF group were transporting the explosives through the Kabacan River.
The IEDs came from Sitio Kabasalan, Barangay Darampua, Sultan sa Barongis in Maguindanao and were intended for Kabacan town, Del Rosario said.
Ten armed men aboard a motorboat, led by a certain Gapang Sapal, shot at soldiers manning checkpoints at the approach of Tunggol Bridge and another group of soldiers from Bravo company of the 7th Infantry Battalion.
As the Armymen pursued the gunmen, another band of armed men engaged them in a 15-minute firefight that forced the closure of highway linking this province with Cotabato for over an hour, the colonel said.
Recovered at the site were two M-4 rifles, a Garand rifle, a cal. 45 pistol and several pieces of ammunition, Del Rosario said.
The Army colonel advised motorists to avoid traveling at night between Kabacan and Midsayap, North Cotabato, passing the towns of Pagalungan and Datu Montawal in Maguindanao.
The portion of the highway linking Pikit, North Cotabato and Pagalungan, Maguindanao had been opened at past 4 pm.