21 BIFF men killed in anti-terror fight

Government troops scored a big victory in the fight against terrorism with the killing of 21 members of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in the past few days in Central Mindanao, military officials said on Sunday.

Brig. Gen. Arnel de la Vega, commanding officer of the 6th Infantry Division and chief of Joint Task Force Central (JTF-C), said that 26 other BIFF members were also wounded following air strikes and ground combat operations conducted from March 13-16 in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao.

“The deployment of blocking forces proved effective in preventing the terrorists from escaping the mass offensives,” he said in a statement.

The BIFF, which broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, has pledged allegiance to international terrorist organization Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in 2014.

No casualties from government troops were recorded, de la Vega said.

De la Vega said that government troops also recovered five improvised explosive devices (IED) and numerous bomb-making components during the offensive operation.

The recovery from the area of manuals for IED-making indicate that the slain terrorists are giving instructions on how to assemble explosive devices and launch bomb attacks, he said.

The official said the military offensives were directed against the group of Muhammad Ali Bin Abdulrahman, alias Muawiyah, a foreign terrorist; Salahuddin Hassan, a local terrorist and bomber trained by the latter; and Esmael Abdulmalik, alias Abu Toraype, the Dawlah Islamiyah Maguindanao founder and a BIFF brigade commander.

“Validations are being made on the ground on persistent reports that these terrorist (leaders) were killed in the well-planned, well-coordinated and well-executed massive air and ground operations,” de la Vega said.

He said those killed in the military operations were also “cohorts” of slain Malaysian terror suspect Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, who was killed by members of the elite Special Action Forces of the Philippine National Police in January 2016 in Maguindanao.

Maj. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) commander, said the deliberate military operations delivered a “crippling blow” against foreign and local terrorists holed-up in some parts of Central Mindanao.

“With the recent successful operations, the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) has dealt a severe blow on the reported ISIS cell in Central Mindanao. We are also confident that their bomb making capability was seriously degraded if not negated,” Galvez said. (PNA)