2 top BIFF-Karialan faction leaders slain in Maguindanao clash

DAVAO CITY – Two top leaders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters-Karialan faction and 10 others were killed in a clash with government forces in Barangay Kitango in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao del Sur on April 22, the Philippine Army 6th Infantry Division reported.


BIFF arms seized by the military following the encounter. (Army photo)

Seven government soldiers were reported wounded in the firefight.

In a press statement relased by the 6th Infantry Division, Brig. Gen. Jose Vladimir Cagara, commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, identified the slain BIFF leaders as Mohiden Animbang, popularly known as Kagui Karialan, the group’s leader, and his brother Saga, the rebel group's operations chief.

Cagara added that 10 of their followers were also killed in the intensified military operations that involved troops from the First Scout Ranger Battalion.  

Government troops recovered 12 high-powered firearms.

In a news report over Cotabato City-based dxMS Radyo Bida, BIFF spokesperson Abu Supyan confirmed the death of their two leaders.

Supyan added that the firefight started around 6 a.m. and lasted until 3 p.m.  

He admitted that they were cornered by government troops and pounded by airstrikes.

A month ago,  government troops also killed Abu Halil, the training officer of BIFF-Karialan Faction.

The BIFF was founded by Ameril Umbra Kato, a former top commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, in 2010 due to differences with MILF leadership.

Following the death of Kato in 2015, Ismael “Imam Bongos” Abubakar took over leadership of the group.

But when Abubakar pledged allegiance to Islamic State, Karialan split from the group and organized his own faction.

In 2017, Bongos was killed in a firefight in Maguindanao.

Over the years, both factions have been tagged as behind the several bombing and extortion activities in Central Mindanao region.