Elderly woman killed, 2 others wounded in North Cotabato air strike

COTABATO CITY, Philippines –  An old elderly woman was killed, while her husband and grandson were wounded during a military air and ground assault at dawn Thursday, July 25, in Pikit, North Cotabato.

Major Homer Estolas, spokesperson of the 6th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, said the target of the dawn operation was the Abu Toreife Terror Group of Dawlah Islamiyah Mindanao, a sub-group of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Estolas said members of the group, including Toreife himself, were spotted in the BIFF-dominated area.

Killed during the 3:30 am airstrike was Misba Masla, a senior citizen. Her husband Ali Masla and their grade 5 grandson Edwin Masla were wounded. Reports said their house in Sitio Butelin, Barangay Kabasalan in Pikit was among those bombed during the operation.

Abu Misry Mama, spokesperson of BIFF denied that the group of Toraife was in the area targeted by the government forces. 

“How could they say in public that they are protecting civilians when in fact, very obvious that they bombed the house of an old woman?” he said in a phone interview.

Estolas said the military would investigate the incident. 

Intelligence reports gathered by the military said that groups of Indong Indong and other foreign terrorists were in the area to meet the group of Salahuddin Hassan and Abu Toreife.

“This is a division-wide proactive operation in Maguindanao and North Cotabato to destroy the bomb making facilities of BIFF”, said Brigadier General Alfredo Rosario of the 602nd Army Brigade in North Cotabato.

He confirmed that among those killed in the assault was Eds Grapil of BIFF.

Ground clearing operations were still in progress. – Rappler.com