BIFF launches New Year attacks on Army detachments

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) upheld its promise to maintain an offensive until the new year.

Around 6 pm of Thursday, December 31, about 20 BIFF fighters opened fire on the detachment of the Philippine Army's 2nd Mechanized Battalion. 

“They surrounded the area and opened fire, 40mm mortars, but could not last the fight,” said 6th Army Infantry Division Captain Jo-Ann Petinglay.

At around 9:20 pm, a detachment of the 34th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Timbangan, Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao traded fire with the BIFF. 

Lieutenant Colonel Edgar Delos Reyes, the 34th Infantry Battalion’s commanding officer, said they managed to drive away the BIFF due to the sheer volume of fire from their base.

A few kilometers away, another firefight ensued. Around 50 armed BIFF members harassed the detachment of the 40th Infantry Battalion in Linantangan, Shariff Saydona town. No one was hurt from the military side, though an unknown number of casualties was monitored on the part of the BIFF.

Yet another firefight was held in the area of the 40th Infantry Battalion in Sultan Sa Barongis town when two local commanders from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) 105th base command engaged in armed conflict due to a clan feud. 

The firefight lasted until the early morning, and resumed after 6 am following a break in the gunfire.

“We are thankful that peacekeepers from the MILF immediately intervened this morning, resulting in the ceasefire,” said Colonel Joel Mamon, commanding officer of the 40th Infantry Battalion.

The newly installed Brigade Commander of the 601st Brigade, Colonel Lito Sobejana, visited his men stationed in the Maguindanao frontlines on Friday morning, January 1 to check the condition of his troops. 

“We are happy all none of them got hurt, We thank the people who prayed for us,” Sobejana said over the phone.

In Matalam, North Cotabato, troops of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) – headed by Kamid Mangadta alias Kumander Dragon – were attacked by fully armed men of Barangay Kagawad Kepig Imbong of the MILF’s 108th base command in Barangay Kidama, Matalam, North Cotabato.

Hundreds of families were forced to flee to evacuation sites.

No casualties have been reported so far, but local peace monitors were sent to the area to settle the conflict. – Rappler.com