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Mindanao, clashes with the army: 44 Biff Islamists killed


Manila (AsiaNews / Agencies) – At least 44 Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (Biff – photo) have been killed in a series of airborne and offensive attacks by the Manila Armed Forces in the city of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, in the province of Maguindanao (autonomous region of Muslim Mindanao), starting from last March 8.

The military leaders also say that a soldier was mortally wounded by a grenade at the weekend, after 25 alleged Maoist rebels from the New People’s Army (NPA) attacked the military detachment of the city of Balbalan, in the province of Kalinga (region of Cordillera).

According to the officer in charge of the Sixth Infantry Division, Gen. Arnel dela Vega, the series of operations conducted last week in the south of the country has also led to the recovery of a dozen rifles, improvised explosive devices (IED) and a black flag similar to that used by the Islamic State (IS). Hostilities broke out when the Second Mechanized Infantry Battalion, commanded by the Lieutenant Colonel Alvin Iyog, intercepted the commander Peni Biff unit in Sitio Lapitos, near Datu Saudita Ampatuan.

Gen. dela Vega reports that the number of deaths among Biff’s ranks has been confirmed by the residents of the neighborhoods affected by the clashes, especially those who have been evacuated.

Spokesman for the rebels, Abu Misri Mama, said the losses were lower than the figure communicated by the army. Since yesterday, tension has remained high in the city of Datu Saudi and in neighboring villages such as Datu Unsay, where Manila’s soldiers have been deployed. At least 2,500 residents who have fled from the affected villages have not yet returned home and are now in the evacuation centers of the cities of Mamasapano, Datu Salibo and Shariff Aguak.

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