THE military launched over the weekend air and ground operations in Maguindanao, killing 21 members of the terrorist group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and wounding 26 others, belated reports reaching Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City said on Sunday.
Last week, 10 BIFF members and a foreign terrorist believed to be a leader of the Asian terror group Jema’ah Islamiyah were killed in Datu Salibo in Maguindanao.
Over the weekend, Joint Task Forces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Western Mindanao Command under Maj. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr. pounded the BIFF position in Barangay Tee also in Datu Salibo where the terrorists were reportedly conducting a training on bomb-making.
A military personnel was slightly wounded during the operations.
The BIFF members tried to escape but were met by blocking forces, according to Brig. Gen. Arnel de la Vega, commander of the Philippine Army’s 6th Infantry Division and concurrent chief of the Joint Task Force Central.
During clearing operations, government troops found five improvised explosives devices, several IED components, half a kilo of flash powder, one-inch concrete nails, batteries, a radio frequency receiver and bomb components.
Also recovered in the area were manuals for IED-making.
De la Vega said targets of the security forces were the groups of Muhammad Ali Bin Abdulrahman, alias Muawiyah, a foreign terrorist; Salahuddin Hassan, a local terrorist and bomber trained by Muawiyah; and Esmael Abdulmalik, alias Abu Toraype, the Dawlah Islamiyah Maguindanao founder and a BIFF brigade commander.
“Validations are being made on the ground on the persistent reports that these terrorists were killed in the well-planned, -coordinated and -executed massive air and ground operations,” he added.
De la Vega said the jihadists were cohorts of Zulkifli Bin Hir alias Marwan who was slain during the infamous Mamasapano massacre in January 2015.
Anti-terrorist operations launched by the Philippine National Police resulted in the massacre of 44 police commandos of the elite Special Action Force.
Based on intelligence reports, the BIFF was also conducting training on IED among recruits from different provinces in southern Mindanao including those from the Maute group, with test missions that target National Grid Corporation of the Philippines towers, public areas and conveyances.
“With the recent successful operations, the AFP has dealt a severe blow to the reported ISIS [Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] cell in Central Mindanao. We are also confident that their bomb-making capability was seriously degraded if not negated,” Galvez said.