Troops overrun BIFF camp in Maguindanao
John Unson (The Philippine Star) - January 7, 2015 - 12:00am

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines – Government security forces on Monday hoisted the Philippine flag at another stronghold of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Gen. S. K. Pendatun town here following artillery attacks that drove the bandits away.

Troops led by Lt. Col. Markton Abo of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion stormed the camp in Sitio Pedtad, Barangay Midpantakan after the bandits attacked farming villages at the border of President Quirino town in Sultan Kudarat on Saturday.

Col. Melquiades Feliciano, chief of the Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade, said no soldier was hurt in the camp takeover.

Feliciano said the operation was in coordination with the joint ceasefire committee of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Residents, including relatives of local MILF leaders, said the bandit group lost three men in the military offensive.

Sources said four other bandits were wounded when a mortar projectile fired by soldiers exploded near them.

The BIFF, led by clerics who studied Islamic theology in the Middle East and North Africa, does not recognize the agreement on cessation of hostilities signed by the government and the MILF in 1997.

A group of soldiers were deployed to help Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu evacuate villagers displaced by BIFF attacks on military outposts in Gen. S. K. Pendatun last weekend.

Lynette Estandarte, a staff of Mangudadatu, said the governor met with the mayors of Gen. S. K. Pendatun and surrounding towns to help address the needs of the evacuees.

Farmers tilling lands around the former BIFF camp said the bandits were extorting money and goods from them.

BANGSAMORO ISLAMIC FREEDOM FIGHTERS BARANGAY MIDPANTAKAN ESMAEL MANGUDADATU INFANTRY BATTALION INFANTRY BRIGADE LYNETTE ESTANDARTE MAGUINDANAO GOV MARKTON ABO OF THE ARMY MELQUIADES FELICIANO MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA PENDATUN
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