AMPATUAN, Maguindanao -– Three suspected extremists were killed and five soldiers were injured in a series of clashes between government forces and extremists taking advantage of the hostilities in Marawi City to hoist the Islamic State flag on strategic spots in Maguindanao.
It was the fourth attempt of Maute Group-affiliated group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Sitio Nanas, Barangay Pamalian, Sharif Saydona, Maguindanao on June 14.
The ISIS-inspired group, led by Commander Salah, whose real name is Salahudin Hassan, first attempted to film the ISIS flag raising in Shariff Saydona but it failed after the Army’s 19th Infantry Battalion engaged them in a fire fight.
Acting on tips from residents, personnel of the Army’s 19th IB backed by armored personnel carriers proceeded to the village where the armed men were gathering.
Another band of BIFF, under Nasrullah Omar, also traded shots with government forces but were driven away deep into the Maguindanao marshland.
Responding government troops also recovered ISIS flag tied to a bamboo pole the bandits left behind.
Another attempt by the BIFF to raise ISIS flag was reported in Barangay Kuloy, Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao but elements of 57th Infantry Battalion drive them away.
Another Army unit, the 23rd Mechanized Company, a unit of the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion, clashed several hours later with gunmen, one of them carrying an ISIS flag, at Sitio Maibunga in Barangay Malangog in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao.
Captain Arvin Encinas, speaking for the 6th Infantry Division, said recent operations against the BIFF were carried out based on reports of sightings by barangay officials.
”We laud the vigilance of village officials who vowed to prevent Marawi City like atrocities,” Encinas said
Encinas said another band of BIFF tried to raise black flag in Barangay Meta in Datu Unsay, also in Maguindanao. Moro farmers sighted the gunmen brandishing high powered guns in Sitio Batingao in Barangay Meta. The quickly alerted the Army nearby.
Encinas said the roles played by village officials prevented publicity by the terrorists. He urged the residents to continue cooperating with government forces to save lives and properties. EOF/PNA-northboundasia.com