BIFF bandits attack N. Cotabato CAFGU detachment, shot Maguindanao dump truck

ALEOSAN, North Cotabato — Elements of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) tried but failed to overrun a para-military detachment in a remote village here, police on Saturday said.

Senior Inspector Junete Napat, Aleosan town police chief, said about 50 suspected BIFF from Datu Salibo, Maguindanao harassed the detachment of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) at about 8 p.m. by firing assault rifles and rifle grenades.

But the militiamen were prepared and engaged the attackers in a gun battle that lasted for about two hours until the guerrillas retreated back to Liguasan marshland.

The militia detachment was one of the many outposts established by the military to prevent BIFF, now under attack by government forces in Datu Salibo, from harassing civilian communities in North Cotabato.

The Rio Grande de Mindnanao served as the borders of Maguindanao and North Cotabato.

Napat said no casualty was reported on the side of the militiamen. Paramilitary troopers could not say if the attackers suffered casualties either.

The morning after, government forces recovered about 100 pieces of empty shells from M-16 Armalite rifle, Garand rifle, fragments of rifle grenade and empty shells for cal. 50 Barret rifle in an area where the BIFF positioned, about 100 meters away from the detachment.

Barret rifle is a signature firearm of the BIFF.

It was the second harassment against the Aleosan detachment this year. Last February 18, BIFF also attacked the CAFGU base.

Capt. Joann Petinglay, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said the harassment on Aleosan detachment was part of the diversionary tactics of the BIFF which suffered heavy losses during Army offensives in Maguindanao.

“This is part of the terrorists’ tactics to ease the offensives in Datu Salibo,” Petinglay said. The military launched attacks against the BIFF after the outlawed group harassed workers of a government flood control project in Maguindanao.

Petinglay said the BIFF has resorted to harassment or hit and run attacks, not only against the military, but other areas in Maguindanao as well. Aside from Aleosan detachment, on Friday afternoon, BIFF also harassed and fired at a dump truck owned by the Maguindanao provincial government in a remote village in Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

The dump truck was working on road project in Ampatuan.

Petinglay said military operations against the BIFF in Maguindanao and nearby areas continue despite the observance of Holy Week.

“Our operations continue, we cannot just leave the area because suspected IEDs still litter the communities earlier occupied by the BIFF,” she said.

She said soldiers can pause and pray even while they are in the battle fields.

The armed conflict in Maguindanao started on February 5 after the BIFF prevented workers of a PHP58-million flood control project aimed at saving villagers from floods every rainy season. PNA /