COTABATO CITY -- Just a few minutes before welcoming the new year, Ameril Umbra Kato's Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) attacked a detachment of the Army's 7th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Kolambog, Pikit town in North Cotabato.
The exchange of fire between the BIFF and the military forces lasted for an hour.
The soldiers also had an encounter with the armed group in Barangay Nabalawag in Midsayap town past 10 p.m. on Tuesday.
Captain Antonio Bulao, spokesperson of the 602nd Brigade, confirmed the attacks launched by the BIFF, but denied the group's statement that they overran four military detachments.
Bulao said the attacks could be related to an extortion demand of the group on the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).
The NIA is currently working on a P6-billion worth of project from the town of Aleosan to Pikit.
Bulao said it is also possible that the BIFF is just sending signals to the government and to the locals that they are still active and want to drive away military troops in the area.
One soldier, identified only as Private First Class Espartero, was wounded in the encounter.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it is still investigating if there were casualties on the rebel group's side.
BIFF spokesperson Abu Missry Mama said none of their members was hurt in the incident.