Top BIFF commander killed

BASILAN, Philippines – The highest commander of the rebel group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Basilan has been killed, the military reported on Saturday, June 21.

Basir Kasaran was shot in the head by a sniper from the Philippine Army's 18th Infantry Batallion, which was supported by Commander Cobra of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), according to initial reports.

Believed to be under Kasaran are the group of Nurhassan Jamiri and Musana Jamiri, who have clashed with the military in Basilan in recent months.

Kasaran is also reported to have supported Furuji Indama and Isnilon Hapilon, top leaders of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, by providing safe haven in his area in Al-Barka, Basilan.

The BIFF is waging a rebellion to claim an independent "Bangsamoro Islamic State" which is free from the "control" of the Philippine government.

Founded by commander Ameril Umra Kato, the BIFF broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) over serious disagreements on the MILF's peace talks with the Aquino administration, among other reasons. – with reports from Richard Falcatan/