Philippine military

BIFF top leader, 11 others killed in Maguindanao military ops

Ferdinandh Cabrera

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BIFF top leader, 11 others killed in Maguindanao military ops
(UPDATED) Mohiden Animbang, the top commander of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters-Karialan faction was killed in a fierce battle in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao Del Sur

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Wanted by the authorities for several years, the top leader of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters-Karialan faction (BIFF-Karialan), Mohiden Animbang, alias Kagui Karialan, was killed, along with his 11 followers, in a fierce battle in Barangay Kitango, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao Del Sur.

Major General Alex Rillera, commander of the Joint Task Force-Central, said in a phone interview on Monday evening, April 22, that they received several confirmatory reports that among those killed during today’s encounter is Kumander Kagui Karialan.

“We are receiving several confirmatory reports that Kumander Karialan was among those killed, including the confirmation of the town mayor of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, finally, we cornered them,” Rillera said.

Rillera said that they had been conducting relentless operations against the troops of Karialan— whose group has allied with and pledged loyalty to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group and has been the headache in peace and security in the said town, as he described.

The military official said that several days ago they managed to follow the trails of the elusive terror leader and his men, but to some point they could not explicitly execute the pursuit operation as they didn’t want to cross the territories controlled by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“We didn’t pursue them at first; we didn’t want to be tagged as peace spoilers, so we waited until they came from their hiding place, and we managed to corner them in Barangay Kitango,” Rillera said in a phone interview.

“He has been a pain in the ass for many; the town has been the center point of the atrocities for several years because of him. We hope this time stability and peace will be felt in the area,” Rillera added.

The firefight lasted the whole day today, from 6 am this morning until late afternoon.

“Initially, we sent choppers to intensify our efforts, but later on, I decided to pull it out because we don’t want to use excessive force, according to Rillera.

The top military commander of Central Mindanao said that troops from the 1st Brigade Combat Team of Brig. Gen. Jose Vladimir Cagara led the joint operations. Cagara served as the ground commander. 

13 high-powered firearms were retrieved by the government authorities from the slain BIFF members.

BIFF-Karialan has been blamed for several bombing incidents, attacks on government troops, and involvement in countless atrocities in the Bangsamoro region.

On Wednesday, April 24, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., presidential adviser on peace, reconciliation, and unity, commended the 6th Infantry Division for displaying “professionalism, bravery and, most importantly, steadfast commitment to safeguarding the peace and security of the region.”

He also emphasized the “key role played by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leadership and its commanders in supporting the AFP’s successful operations against Animbang and his men.”

“We, therefore, urge the other members of the BIFF to abandon the armed violence and return to the folds of the law. There is no longer any reason for you to engage in violent acts, as the dividends of peace are now upon us,” Galvez said in a statement.  

“Moving forward, we must all work together to address the challenges in achieving genuine peace and security. We must not allow these instruments of unpeace to negate the gains we have made under the Bangsamoro peace process. Let us all stand united in defeating violent extremism and building a peaceful, progressive and prosperous future for all,” he added. –

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