NORTH COTABATO - Some 207 families have fled from the attack of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIFF) in Pigcawayan in the province on Christmas eve.
The affected residents of barangays Simsiman and Malagakit have sought shelter at the old gymnasium of the town.
Several residents shared their accounts of the Yuletide attacks.
(READ: 10 dead in Christmas eve carnage by BIFF)
Purita Dillera, a resident of Barangay Malagakit, said they were inside a church, preparing for the Christmas mass when the armed men surrounded them.
The BIFF fighters brought the churchgoers to a school and held them hostage for about two hours.
"Gary", who was also brought by the armed men to a school, said the BIFF did not hurt them but took some of their belongings like mobile phones, and car and motorcycle keys.
Residents were convinced that BIFF used them as human shields to discourage government troops from pursuing them.
They said the military, police and Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) were the BIFF's real target.
But residents shared that they remain traumatized by the raid.
They appealed to the government to intensify intelligence gathering to prevent armed groups from entering civilian villages.
The town's Social Welfare and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management offices have extended assistance to the affected residents.
Residents will remain at the evacuation center while tension still grips their village.
Armed men were still reportedly sighted in the area near Pulangi river.
Last Thursday, a village councilman was killed by the BIFF in Pigkawayan.