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Three Usman kin believed killed as BIFF suffers more casualties in close-quarter fighting

Military units train howitzers in artillery campaign against positions of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. AFP file photograph.
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA - Reports reaching Manila indicated that the latest casualties from the running skirmishes with the renegade Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) include three relatives of terrorist Abdul Basit Usman.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman and Civil Relations Service (CRS) commander Brig. Gen. Joselito "Joey" Kakilala said on Thursday that the casualties on the BIFF side were reported after several hours of unstoppable close-quarter battles from Wednesday morning up to noon in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao.

"Our commanders in the field had just reported to AFP General Headquarters about developments on the ground. The number of enemy casualties keeps mounting as close-quarter battles are ongoing," Kakilala said.

Last Tuesday, 23 BIFF died, and two government soldiers were killed in action at Datu Saibo and Datu Paing.

Kakilala said two of the killed terrorists were believed to be nephews of Usman and another one was reportedly a relative.

He identified Usman's nephews as Rene Masabpi and Kunudi Simeon.

"Our troops were still trying to identify the third one, and all of them were reportedly buried somewhere in Sitio Ilang, Barangay Tina, Shariff Aguak."

Meanwhile, AFP Public Affairs Office (PAO) chef Lieutenant Harold Cabunoc said the all-out offensive against the BIFF will continue as more fresh troops, including elite forces are inserted into the battle fronts.

"The main objective is to decimate the BIFF and their terrorist cohorts, such as Usman and reportedly, five foreign terrorists fleeing with them," Cabunoc said.

Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the Army's 6th Infantry Division, attributed the good results of the all-out offensive against the BIFF to the "cooperation" of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in sharing intelligence information with the assaulting government forces.