World Bulletin/News Desk
Philippine government forces launched artillery assaults on a breakaway group of the country's one-time largest rebel organization Monday, following an attack that left a soldier dead.
Lt. Col. Markton Abu, commander of the 33rd Infantry Battalion, told reporters the offensive was a response to harassment by Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) members Saturday morning in Mindanao, the largest island in the southern Philippines.
"Offensive operations against the BIFF are ongoing in the marshy portion of General SK Pendatun town in Maguindanao [province] and a village in Sultan Kudarat [province]," Abu said.
On Saturday, a soldier was killed and three others wounded when the BIFF launched attacks on two army detachments in General Salipada K. Pendatun and Sultan Kudarat’s Katiku that left a soldier dead and three others wounded.
Maj. General Edmundo Pangilinan, 6th Infantry Division commanding general, told Brigada News local radio that clearing operations have been ongoing in an area where the BIFF maintains a camp.
"We have received information the rebels threatened to attack civilians. We also have reliable information the BIFF are threatening the civilians because it’s harvest time," Pangilinan added.
He called on civilians to provide the army with information about the presence of rebels so as to preempt extortion attempts by "spoilers of peace" against farmers.
Earlier, self-proclaimed BIFF spokesperson Abu Misry Mama said that although dozens of howitzers had hit the marshland during the weekend, no rebels were killed in the offensive.
"It rained mortars here, we are on the defensive position," he said.
The BIFF broke off from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2011 and opposes the peace deal signed between the Front and the government last year. Its campaign of bombings and attacks on government forces is aimed at achieving an independent state in Mindanao.Last Mod: 05 Ocak 2015, 12:29