BIFF warns N. Cotabato residents of attacks
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – As firefights between government forces and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members continue in Zamboanga City and Basilan, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) advised civilians living near military checkpoints and camps in Central Mindanao to temporarily leave their homes.
Abu Misry Mama, spokesman of the BIFF, hinted intensified attacks most especially in the province of North Cotabato. The BIFF is a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is holding peace negotiations with the Aquino government.
“The best thing that the civilians, who are living near military checkpoints, may do is to temporarily leave their homes to avoid getting caught in the crossfire most especially in North Cotabato,” Mama said.
He however clarified that any attacks launched by the BIFF is not related to the attacks of the MNLF.
“If we will attack, this will be because of our struggle and Jihad. It only coincided with the attacks of the MNLF,” Mama said.
Despite reports that the MNLF has created an alliance with the BIFF, Mama clarified that both groups have different frameworks in their Bangsamoro struggle.
“We both want independence, but the BIFF wants the implementation of Islamic governance,” Mama said.
Gov't securing area
“The BIFF wants an independent state governed by Islamic laws even if it will be only as small as a barangay,” Mama said.
Gov Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza gave assurances that government troops will secure the province from attacks.
"Government troops as well as other agencies are on the lookout in our area of responsibility. We do not take for granted any information that reached our office," Mendoza said.
"We do not want violence in our area. We appeal to civilians to be pro-active and vigilant as far as peace and order is concerned," Mendoza said.
Led by former 105th Base commander Ameril Umra Kato, the BIFF splintered from the MILF after serious disagreements over the decision of the MILF to enter into peace negotiations with the government. – Rappler.com