DATU SAUDI AMPATUAN, Maguindanao — Abu Jihad, a spokesperson of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF), was among six wounded in a recent clash with government forces that resulted in two civilians killed.
Army Col. Pete Balisi, commander of the 1st Mechanized Brigade, said that Jihad lost his left leg in an explosion that also resulted in four soldiers and a civilian sustaining wounds.
The two civilians were killed in the blast, according to the regional military spokesperson Lt. Col. John Paul Baldomar.
“The clashes started with a bomb explosion in the village of Kitango around 9 a.m. that was followed by mortar shelling by the military,” Rohanna Salik, Datu Saudi Ampatuan local disaster response officer said.
“The military was conducting clearing operations. There was an improvised explosive device that exploded then it was followed by an exchange of gunfire,” she added.
Balisi said the civilians were hit by shrapnel, not by bullets.
Tagged a local terrorist group after splintering with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the BIFF has been opposing the setting up of a joint peacekeeping force by the MILF and the government.
Last month, 14 suspected BIFF militants died in days of clashes in the restive southern province of Maguindanao after more than 50 militants occupied a village in this remote town of Datu Saudi Ampatuan.
The recent encounters have forced 540 families to evacuate amid the month-long celebration of Ramadan.
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