GROUND troops on New Year’s Eve turned the tide of battle on the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, killing six of its members and wounding several others of the terror group that launched simultaneous attacks on different military installations in Central Mindanao.
The attacks started during the New Year revelry with the BIFF rebels launching grenade and mortar attacks on three separate military installations in the towns of Datu Piang, Shariff Aguak, and Shariff Saydona Mustapha, all in Maguindanao province.
The attacks forced thousand families to scamper for shelter in government evacuation centers to avoid being caught in the crossfire following the death of six farmers on Christmas eve on similar atrocities.
Capt Jo-Ann Petinglay, public affairs office head of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said civilians in communities affected by the BIFF attacks reported that retreating rebels carried with them about five to six dead bodies and several wounded comrades.
This brings to 129 the number of BIFF rebels who were killed after the military repulsed their attacks on military posts this year, the highest of which was recorded in April 16 where 52 bandits were killed, among them Commander Hassan Indal and one alias “Tambako” who is reportedly a top lieutenant of Ustadz Ameril Umbra Kato, and three child soldiers.
The renewed BIFF attacks happened after the terror group decided to lay low following the death of their leader Basit Usman who was killed by army pursuing troops in Maguindanao last September.
The BIFF’s last-ditch effort to exact revenge against the military started when the rebels attacked a military detachment in Datu Piang where they fired an M203 grenade which exploded some 50 meters away from the Kaungan Detachment of the Army’s Mechanized Infantry Company at about 6 p.m.
At around 9:30 p.m., about 30 BIFF rebels attacked the Timbangan Detachment of the 34th IB in Barangay Timbangan, Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao but they were met by a barrage of gunfire by army troopers.
After an hour-long cesssation of gunfire, the rebels resumed their attacks this time at the Linantangan Detachment of the 40th Infantry Battalion situated at Barangay Linantangan, Sharrif Syadona Mustapha, Maguindanao but there were no reported casualties on the government side.
“The already prepared military forces immediately engaged the harassing lawless elements for an estimated 15-minute firefight, prompting the BIFF to withdraw and scamper towards different directions,” said Petinglay.
On Christmas eve, the BIFF fired mortar shells at a military detachment in Datu Sangki, Maguindanao, but were repulsed by soldiers.
As the BIFF rebels withdrew, the terror group chanced on civilian farmers and shot them mercilessly.
Army Chief Lt. Gen. Eduardo Ano has earlier ordered an additional deployment of troops in Central Mindanao in anticipation of heightened BIFF attacks to protect civilian communities and strengthened the military’s defense against future assaults.