By Aaron Recuenco
Joint police and military operatives killed 10 suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in a fierce clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, a military official said Thursday.
Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commanding general of the Western Mindanao Command, said the gun battle also resulted in the death of a soldier and the wounding of two government troopers.
Sobejana said the gunfight started when members of the 33rd Infantry Battalion and the police’s 4th Special Action Company chanced upon a group of BIFF armed men in Barangay Tukanalipao.
A fierce clash occurred as the BIFF fighters stood their ground.
The government forces were supported by artillery fires and air strikes at the height of the gun battle.
“These forced the bandits to withdraw and escape, bringing along their casualties with them,” said Sobejana.
Battle casualties were extracted from the encounter site and evacuated to Camp Siongco Station Hospital in Cotabato City for immediate medical attention, according to Sobejana.
Additional government troops were sent to the area for pursuit operations.
The BIFF is a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) triggered by the decision of the MILF to sign a peace deal with the government during the previous administration.