Army pounds BIFF with artillery, airstrikes in Maguindanao

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BIFF fighters (InterAksyon file)

COTABATO CITY — The military struck positions of he Bangsamoro Islamic Liberation Front in Maguindanao province with artillery fire and bombing runs by helicopter gunships early Wednesday.

“We will sustain the offensive to flush them out in their hideouts at the peripheries of two towns in Maguindanao,” Captain John Arvin Encinas, spokesman of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said.

Encinas said they are specifically targeting BIFF sub-commander Ismael Abubakar, alias Commander Bungos, whose group is holed out in the area of Barangay Meta, Datu Unsay and Barangay Timbangan in Shariff Aguak.

Despite the offensive, the Cotabato-Maguindanao-Isulan highway has remained open although the Army’s 603rd Infantry Brigade has set up checkpoints.

Encinas said they coordinated the operation with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to avoid any mis-encounters.

No civilian evacuation has yet been reported.

In nearby Carmen, Cotabato province, the military is also pursuing Esmael Abdulmalik, alias Commander Toraife, who leads a BIFF faction that has pledged allegiance to ISIS.

The operations in Carmen have displaced more than 200 families.