COTABATO City – At least 3,295 families or around 16,000 individuals have been displaced by fighting between the military and members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (Biff) in several villages of Maguindanao since Monday.
Raisa Jajurie, minister of social services of the Bangsamoro Region, said the figures are based on those now camping in Shariff Saidona, Shariff Aguak and Datu Salibo towns and does not include those who evacuated in Datu Saudi Ampatuan and Datu Piang towns, Jajurie said.
Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Joint Task Force Central Mindanao, said the military launched “surgical” air and ground assaults on Biff encampments.
He advised the residents to stay inside the evacuation centers as clashes were still raging.
The military operation in Maguindanao had resulted in the death of eight Biff members and a soldier from the 6th Infantry Division and the wounding of another soldier, he said.
Sobejana identified six of the Biff casualties as Kumander Pegka, Karim Binua, Munir Madsal, Gani Lanti, Bukari Samad and Sanday Musib.
Clashes started in Barangay Inaladan, Shariff Saydona Mustapha town and spread to other areas after the Biff sent reinforcement to their distressed comrades, he said.
Fighter jets, attack helicopters and howitzers bombarded first the location of Shiek Esmael Abdulmalik a.k.a. Abu Torayfie killing six of his men, he added.
The military claimed the Biff, which has reportedly pledged allegiance to the Isis, carried out attacks that killed five soldiers in Cotabato City and Maguindanao last week. (Ferdinandh Cabrera of Mindanews)