2 soldiers killed in North Cotabato clash

By Albashir Saiden, ABS-CBN News Central Mindanao

Posted at Jul 06 2013 05:57 PM | Updated as of Jul 07 2013 08:32 PM

NORTH COTABATO - Two soldiers of the 7th Infantry Battalion under the 6th Infantry Division were killed in an encounter with an armed group in Paidupulangi in Pikit, North Cotabato Saturday morning.

Captain Antonio Bulao, CMO officer of the 602nd Brigade, said they cannot divulge the identities of the casualties because they haven't informed their families yet.

"Hindi pa natin pwedeng pangalanan, ito ‘yung protocol natin, hindi pa kasi namin naipaalam sa immediate family nila,” said Bulao.

The encounter started when government troops launched a law enforcement operation in Paidupulangi to stop the alleged lawless groups from entering North Cotabato.

"Law enforcement ‘yung ginawa namin, pinipigilan kasi naming na makapasok sila sa area namin para matigil na ang mga harassment dito. Pinaputukan nila kami kaya wala kaming choice," Bulao said.

The encounter happened between the areas of Pikit, North Cotabato and Datu Piang, Maguindanao.

Bulao said civilians were not affected in the clash.

"Inaabisuhan na kasi namin sila bago ang operation, nakipagtulungan naman sila kaya wala namang nasaktan sa kanila," he said.

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces have yet to determine if there are casualties from the side of the lawless elements.

Bulao also said they still have to verify if these lawless elements are members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

"Hindi pa natin ma-confirm sa ngayon kung anong grupo talaga sila, hindi tayo basta-basta makakapagsabi kung BIFF ba sila o ano,” Bulao said.

The clash started at 11:45 a.m. and continued until around 2 p.m.

Col. Dickson Hermoso, Division Public Affairs Officer of the 6th ID, said they will deploy more troops to the area.