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Gov't forces take over BIFF bomb making facility in Maguindanao

Local News • 18:40 PM Wed Mar 16, 2016
John Unson
For illustration only

DATU SALIBO, Maguindanao --- Government forces on Tuesday found abandoned shanties in Barangay Andavit here where bandits kept materials for fabrication of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).The combined Marine and Army team that discovered the huts, where the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) fabricated IEDs, traded shots first with retreating guerilla snipers armed with home-made prototypes of .50 caliber Barret rifles before they could collect the ordnance cache.Bandits had detonated no fewer than 50 IEDs since late January, targeting soldiers clearing swaths of open fields in Satu Salibo town from BIFF control.The group was blamed for last February’s roadside bombing near the town center of Datu Salibo, which killed the municipality's local government treasurer and three others.Military officials said ordnance operatives found mortar projectiles, incendiary and blasting chemicals and contraptions of improvised battery-operated IED detonators from the abandoned BIFF lair. We also found cut pieces of construction support bars, fragments of cast iron and nails to be packed with the IEDs they were to assemble to ensure it can really kill, hurt their targets,” said a junior Army officer, who requested anonymity for lack of authority to speak on the issue. Soldiers also recovered from the scene addresses of business establishments and sketches of routes around public terminals and markets the BIFF intended to bomb.Army bomb disposal experts also collected in one of the abandoned huts some 20 kilos of crystalline pellets in small plastic bags, believed to be regulated ammonium nitrate fertilizer, which can be used as blasting charges for IEDs if mixed with kerosene, ground charcoal and sulfur.The spokesman of BIFF, Abu Misry Mama, said they have never stored materials for fabrication of booby traps and roadside bombs in a peasant enclave in Barangay Andavit southwest of Datu Salibo, which government forces cleared from their control last Tuesday. We will continue to harass soldiers now positioned in the barangays we once controlled until they leave,” Misry said in Filipino, in heavy Maguindanaon accent.Captain Joann Petinglay, spokesperson of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the latest casualties in the recurring military-BIFF encounters in Datu Salibo were members of the 25th Marine Company of the 5th Marine Battalion.A marine private, Ronel Undecimo, was killed while his immediate superior, 2nd Lt. Shajeed Andik, was wounded when bandits attacked their makeshift encampment in Barangay Tee in the same town on Monday night.Undecimo’s death raised to five the number of government combatants killed in encounters with BIFF gunmen in Datu Salibo since late January.Petinglay said more than 30 other soldiers have since been wounded in the spate of encounters there.At least 13 of the injured soldiers were victims of roadside bombings while searching for booby traps laid by bandits along farm trails crisscrossing the surroundings of Barangay Tee and nearby agricultural districts.

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