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Army repulse BIFF harassment in Maguindanao

 • 21:55 PM Mon Jan 18, 2016
Ferdinandh Cabrera
Soldiers in military hardware secure portions of the Datu Saudi Ampatuan highway in Maguindanao following BIFF attacks. (Ferdinandh Cabrera)

DATU SAUDI AMPATUAN, Maguindanao -– Outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) on Sunday night harassed government forces but quickly backed off when prepared soldiers engaged them in a firefight in a remote village here, officials said.
At past 8 p.m. soldiers of the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion were conducting patrol in the village of Kabpangi, a known area of BIFF.
As the soldiers were slowly marching in fighting stance, a loud blast from an improvised explosive device occurred followed by series of gun fire from two directions.
We dropped and engaged the gunmen in about 30 minutes of exchange of bullets,” First Lieutenant Emmanuel Ferrer, Army team leader, said, adding that no casualty was reported on the government side.
He could not say either where the attackers suffered fatalities.
Before 8 p.m., Ferrer said the soldiers, backed by armoured personnel carrier, went to the village following reports from villagers that about 20 heavily armed men were massing in the area.
As the state forces were approaching, they were fired at by gunmen from both sides of the lonely concrete highway. The gunmen also lobbed grenades, one of which landed beside a military hardware, and then fled under cover of darkness.
Soldiers pursued them but Ferrer directed his men to retreat for fear of bobby traps left by fleeing bandits.
Overnight the area was quiet. Soldiers, led by Lt. Colonel Warlito Limet, 2nd Mechanized Brigade commander, found a box with improvised bomb on the bandits’ escape route. Army bomb experts later deactivated it Monday morning.
Limet said prior to the attacks, Army intelligence agents learned of an impending harassment by BIFF in the so called SPMS box.”
SPMS” refers to the adjoining towns of Shariff Aguak, Pagatin (Datu Saudi), Mamasapano and Shariff Saydona, a known bailiwick of the BIFF where government forces have detachments, command posts and checkpoints.
Colonel Limet said Sunday night’s attackers were led by Kagi Tatang,” who hurriedly returned to the marshland fully aware of the Army’s might.
He said the Army remained on heightened alert, expecting future attacks from bandits against government forces to show it is still a force to reckon with. (Ferdinandh Cabrera)

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