Maguindanao del Sur

Army confirms killing of BIFF faction training chief in Maguindanao del Sur clash

Froilan Gallardo

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Army confirms killing of BIFF faction training chief in Maguindanao del Sur clash
The military says the BIFF-Karialan faction was not aligned with the Dawlah Islamiya until it joined forces with a more radical BIFF group in carrying out an ambush that killed soldiers in Maguindanao del Sur

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Authorities confirmed on Monday, March 25, the death of one of the leaders of a faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF), barely a week after the radical group threatened to launch more attacks against the military and police, even during the Ramadan period, in response to government offensives in Maguindanao del Sur.

Brigadier General Jose Vlademir Cagara, commander of the Army’s 1st Brigade, said government troops killed BIFF-Karialan faction leader Abu Halil during a fierce encounter in Maguindanao del Sur last Friday, March 22.

Halil, who served as the training officer of the BIFF faction, is the brother of Khadaf Abdulatif, the group’s chief of staff.

In 2008, the BIFF emerged as a splinter group from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Mindanao. Following the demise of its leader, Ameril Umra Kato, in 2015, the organization fragmented into multiple factions, among them Halil’s group.

Cagara said the fierce clash between the soldiers and Halil’s group lasted for 30 minutes in Sitio Binakuyan, Barangay Salbu in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town.

When the armed group retreated, the soldiers searched the encounter site and found the body of Halil, with an M16 rifle with four magazines on his side.

The clash took place approximately 18 kilometers from Datu Hoffer Ampatuan town, where BIFF members killed four soldiers last March 17.

The military said the Karialan faction was not aligned with the Dawlah Islamiya terror organization until it joined forces with a more radical BIFF group – the Bungos faction – in carrying out the March 17 ambush that killed soldiers from the Army’s 40th Infantry Battalion. The soldiers killed were identified as Privates Marvin Dumaging and Jessie James Corpuz, Private 1st Class Carl Araña, and Corporal Creszaldy Espartero.

On March 18, the group warned that it would launch more attacks against government forces as it claimed responsibility for the ambush that occurred a day earlier.

The BIFF claimed responsibility for the raid on March 16, targeting a military patrol base in Pagatin, located in Datu Salibo town. During the exchange of gunfire, two soldiers were injured.

Abu Sapyun, spokesperson for the BIFF-Karialan faction, said the recent assaults on the military were in response to ongoing military offensives, such as a raid in Sitio Tatapan, Kitango village in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town, Maguindanao del Sur. The military raid resulted in the death of Abdul Kader Animbang, a sibling of BIFF leader Kagi Karialan, and nephew Hamidi Animbang. –

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