Army launches artillery, airstrikes vs BIFF in Maguindanao

COTABATO CITY — Military artillery fires, backed by helicopter gunships, pounded on pinpointed lairs of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Liberation Front (BIFF) in Maguindanao on Wednesday dawn, sending targets on the run in the continuing offensive.

“We will sustain the offensive to flush them out in their hideouts at the peripheries of two towns in Maguindanao,” Capt. John Arvin Encinas, Army’s 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said.

Encinas said they are specifically targeting BIFF sub-commander Ismael Abubakar alias Commander Bungos, whose group had maintained a haven at the remote section of Barangays Meta and Timbangan of Datu Unsay and Shariff Aguak towns, respectively.

Amid the offensive, Encinas said the Cotabato-Maguindanao-Isulan highway had remained open to motorists, as the Army’s 603rd Infantry Brigade had set up key checkpoints to ensure the safety of the traveling public.

He said that they also coordinated the attack with their former adversary-turned-ally Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the area to prevent any misencounter.

“The MILF has been working with us side-by-side since our campaign against the BIFF and they also sustained casualties in recent firefights with the BIFF in the area,” Encinas said.

No civilian evacuation has been reported yet in the ongoing military offensive.

This developed as the military is also pursuing BIFF forces under Esmael Abdulmalik alias Commander Toraife in the interiors of neighboring Carmen, North Cotabato.

The relentless operation against Toraife, whose faction has pledged support to the ISIS, has resulted to the displacement of over 200 families in the area.

“The Toraife group fled to North Cotabato province to escape the ongoing military assault. We are not letting up our operation against them,” Encinas said. Noel Punzalan/