SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao - A member of the rebel group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) was killed in an encounter with government soldiers in Datu Unsay town, Maguindanao last Wednesday.
Col. Gener del Rosario, commander of the Philippine Army's 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade, said the gunfight started when the soldiers sighted the bandits in the area.
The AFP also seized some firearms from the group.
"Mga .45-caliber 'yun, pati mga wirings ginagamit siguro sa paggawa ng IED (improvised explosive device). Meron ding granada," Del Rosario said.
BIFF spokesman Abu Misry Mama confirmed the death of one of his comrades and said the group will avenge the loss.
"Oo, isa sa mga kasama natin ang namatay, nakuha nila ang ilang armas natin," Mama said.
"Hindi tayo titigil hangga't hindi kami nakakaganti. Sila ang naunang umatake sa amin."
The group made true on its promise and harassed an Army detachment in Shariff Aguak the following day.
The exchange of fire lasted for almost half an hour. No casualties were reported in the attack.
Asiya Lindungan, a native resident of Shariff Aguak who lives with her family just in front of the military detachment, said she and her family will never relocate despite the danger of being caught in crossfire.
"Hindi kami aalis dito. Kasi wala pa ang kampo ng mga sundalo dito nandito na kami, nandito ang kabuhayan namin,'' she said.
Mama, meanwhile, said his group will continue to attack military camps.
The military said they are ready for further BIFF attacks.
"Nakahanda kami 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Sana lang hindi nila madamay yung mga sibilyan,'' del Rosario said.
The BIFF is a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) founded by Ameril Umbra Kato. The group is mainly opposed to the peace talks between the MILF and Philippine government.