BIFF bandits, soldiers clash anew in Maguindanao

By Lore Mae Andong, ABS-CBN News Central Mindanao

Posted at Jun 06 2014 09:00 AM | Updated as of Jun 06 2014 05:00 PM

COTABATO CITY- Government troops immediately pursued suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) following a bomb attack Thursday in Datu Unsay, Maguindanao that left a soldier dead.

Lt. Col. Donald Hongitan, commanding officer of the Army's 45th Infantry Battalion, told ABS-CBN News that government troops engaged suspected BIFF bandits in a firefight in several villages in Datu Unsay.

No casualty was reported from the side of government troops, but he said there was information that two BIFF rebels were wounded.

He said the rebels were forced to retreat, but pursuit operations were still ongoing.

BIFF spokesperson Abu Missry Mama, meanwhile, told ABS-CBN News in a text message that the group will investigate who was behind the blast. He did not confirm whether BIFF was behind the attack.

Army 6th Infantry Division spokesperson Col. Dickson Hermoso earlier said troops from 45th IB's Charlie Company were on their way from Camp Omar to the battalion headquarters in Datu Unsay when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off.

The military truck's driver was killed, while 3 others were wounded. One of the wounded was the commander of Charlie Company.

The incident happened just a kilometer away from the national highway in Datu Unsay.

Camp Omar was used as headquarters by the BIFF under the self-declared leadership of 105th Base Commander Ameril Umbra Kato before they were forced to leave after a series of military operations against them in 2012.

The wounded soldiers were brought to the Integrated Provincial Health Office and were later transferred to Camp Siongco Station Hospital in Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat.

Hermoso said government troops are convinced that the IED was meant for soldiers who will pass by the area.

Around three weeks ago, an explosion also occurred on a bridge in Datu Unsay which left several soldiers injured.