IS inspired group tries, fails to overrun 2 North Cotabato villages

Local News • Fri Jan 12, 2018 04:36 PM  •  85   0
By Edwin O. Fernandez
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Residents displaced by BIFF atrocities in Pigcawayan in June last year get aid from provincial government. (file photo)
Residents displaced by BIFF atrocities in Pigcawayan in June last year get aid from provincial government. (file photo)
PIGCAWAYAN, North Cotabato  – Military authorities said it foiled attempts by IS inspired Moro gunmen to over-run communities in North Cotabato in what the Army believed was a diversionary tactic to ease the heat of military offensives in Maguindanao.  

Major General Arnel dela Vega, 6th Infantry Division commander, said about 30 members of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) tried to attack the village of Malagakit here at about 10 p.m. on Wednesday night.
 

“We expect them to harass civilian communities to divert military offensives in Datu Unsay and Datu Saudi Ampatuan,” Dela Vega said, adding that Army intelligence community monitored the BIFF plot to attack the village of Malagakit, a farming village in the borders of North Cotabato and Maguindanao.  

Capt. Arvin John Encinas, speaking for the 6th ID, said Gen. dela Vega immediately ordered the deployment of 34th Infantry Battalion personnel in Barangay Malagakit.
 

At past 10 p.m., about 30 BIFF, under a certain Commander Aguila, arrived in the village using motorized boat through the Rio Grande de Mindanao.   The Army, backed by artillery, fired at the approaching BIFF rebels, triggering an hour long fire fight, until the gunmen fled deep into the marshland of Maguindanao.  

Before leaving, the armed men harassed adjacent village of Bulacaon, also in Pigcawayan, sending residents fleeing. Barangay Bulucaon Chair Mark John Montales said all his constituents were accounted for and nobody was hurt when the gunmen strafed the sub-village of Marquez.  

Overnight, the Army rained the fleeing rebels with mortars and howitzers.  

“Four houses abandoned by residents were ransacked by the armed men,” Montales said.  Two residents were abducted and used as “guides” by the gunmen.  Later the two returned home unharmed, he said.
 

Pigcawayan Municipal Administrator Jezler Garcesa said classes were suspended Thursday in Pigcawayan West District composed of three elementary and three secondary schools. Classes resumed Friday.  

He said at least 34 families or 85 persons from Barangays Malagakit and Bulacaon have evacuated to safer grounds.  They have been provided with relief assistance.
 

On June 17 last year, the BIFF attacked Barangay Malagakit and Bulacaon, destroyed elementary school and a chapel, killed a farmer and a militiaman and torched several homes.    
 

CAFGU Abraham Kutay was killed in the firefights that left two other militiamen, Angelo Verona and Resty Segundara, wounded. A civilian was killed in front of his horrified wife and children in Barangay Malagakit.  
During military operations, at least eight BIFF were killed and the two villages have been liberated. The attack in two villages came amid military operations against IS inspired group in Marawi City.  

Government forces have killed 10 BIFF members, including a bomber trained by slain Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, in Datu Unsay, Maguindanao.  

The military launched air strikes and ground assaults against the BIFF after they attacked military installations in Mt. Firis, Barangay Maytumaig, Datu Unsay, Maguindanao on December 25. 

The conflict sent about 800 families of Teduray fleeing to safer grounds. (Edwin O. Fernandez)
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