MANILA -- (UPDATED) At least 15 suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were killed in an encounter in Maguindanao, the military said Sunday.
Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Division Commander of the 6th Infantry Division, said the clash started in Liguasan Marsh where troops were searching for a facility used by the group to make improvised bombs.
Sobejana said the military used air and ground troops because of the BIFF rebel's resistance in the area. Aside from the 15 killed, the military wounded 8 other fighters and arrested 2 more.
Meanwhile, residents from the nearby towns of Pagalungan, General Salipada K. Pendatun and Sultan sa Barongis fled in fear from their homes after the clash.
Data from Department of Social Welfare and Development office in the region show around 1,793 families from these towns are now staying in different evacuation centers.
The government agency, along with the ARMM humanitarian emergency action and response team, is assessing the situation, as of posting.
The military, meanwhile, assured the residents that the operation they conducted was far from the residential community.
"Wala silang dapat ika-worry, hindi dapat mag-panic o mag-evacuate dahil ang operation ay well-planed, well-coordinated," said Capt. Arvin Encinas of the 6th Infantry Division.
(No reason to worry, panic, or evacuate because the operation was well-planned and well-coordinate.)
-- report from Henry Atuelan and Arianne Apatan, ABS-CBN News