COTABATO CITY — Four members of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were hurt in a clash with government soldiers as they tried to take over on Sunday night, December 25, an Army detachment in Maguindanao del Sur province.
The slain BIFF members, initially identified only by traditional community elders as Talib, Musib, Oting, and Guiadil, were among gunmen who attacked a roadside detachment of the Army’s 40th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Labo-Labo 2 in Datu Hofer, Maguindanao del Sur.
Officials of the Maguindanao Provincial Police Office and units of the Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade told reporters Monday the BIFF group that attacked the detachment is led by “Commander Jacket.”
He is wanted for the fatal ambush last August of Police Lt. Reynaldo Samson and subordinate, Corporal Salipudin Endab, in nearby Ampatuan, Maguindanao del Sur.
Samson was the municipal police chief of Ampatuan then.
The soldiers and militiamen in the detachment in Barangay Labo-Labo 2 noticed their attackers approaching their position from two directions, enabling them to open fire first.
Commander Jacket and his followers traded shots with the soldiers and militiamen in the detachment for about 10 minutes and fled when four of them got wounded.
Villagers residing in farms around the detachment have confirmed that Commander Jacket’s followers carried four wounded companions as they scampered away.
Major Gen. Roy Galido, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said Monday that barangay leaders in different towns have reported that the BIFF’s harassment of the soldiers and militiamen in the detachment was creating an impression that the group has not been weakened by the surrender of more than a hundred members since January this year.
The latest to yield to units of 6th ID, in separate batches, were 51 BIFF members who pledged allegiance to the government in separate rites in North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Maguindanao province just last month.
Galido said many of those who surrendered early on had been reintroduced to the local communities with the help of different government agencies. (JOHN UNSON)