THE Armed Forces of the Philippines continued to battle the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters on Saturday with the number of soldiers wounded in clashes rising to 13 although the army has so far captured three camps and arrested four members of the extremist group.
Rebel casualties consists of seven dead and 13 wounded, AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said Saturday.
Among those wounded was a UH-IH “Huey” pilot who was hit by ground fire while providing cover fire to the troops he just inserted in the combat area.
Cabunoc said that another series of encounter took place Saturday but declined to give exact locations as operations are still ongoing.
Earlier, the AFP reported that nine troopers from the 6th Infantry Division’s Task Force Central were wounded while six members of the BIFF were injured following a firefight in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town, Maguindanao Friday afternoon.
The clash took place at 2 p.m. and ended early morning Saturday.
Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said that those injured were immediately evacuated for treatment. None of the injuries suffered by government forces are life-threatening.
Troopers are still conducting pursuit and clearing operations as of this posting.
At 2:50 p.m. Friday, Task Force Central troopers conducting clearing operations in the boundaries of Barangays Dabunayan and Liab, Datu Piang town, and arrested four BIFF members identified as Aladin Panaydan, 22; Daud Balogat, 23; Ebrahim Oraw, 40 and Abdul Madalidaw, 33.
Also captured was the BIFF camp in the area.
Recovered from their possession were a .45 caliber pistol and one magazine containing six rounds of ammunition; one .45 Thompson sub-machine gun, improvised explosive device (IED) paraphernalia, four mobile phones and assorted war materials and documents.
“The capture of the camp only proves that the BIFF is involved in the manufacture of IEDs and is establishing strongholds in the different areas within the vicinity of the SPMS box. The current operation will greatly affect the BIFF as this is already the third encampment that has already been captured in less than a week,” Petinglay said.
Petinglay said two other BIFF camps in Mamasapano and Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao were captured, on Tuesday and Wednesday.
At least 15 BIFF members were killed, three camps captured and three soldiers wounded in the week-long military campaign to neutralize the BIFF believed to be coddling Filipino bomb expert Basit Usman and five foreign terrorists.
About 45,000 civilians were also displaced in Maguindanao’s 11 towns.