Tuesday, June 15, 2021

15 killed, bomb factories destroyed in air, ground assault

MAGUINDANAO. A military airstrike on Sunday, June 10, 2018, destroyed the bomb-making factories of the Islamic State-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Liguasan Marsh, an Army official said Monday, June 11. (Photo from PTV Facebook)

THE Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp) confirmed that airstrikes and ground operations on Sunday, June 10, destroyed bomb-making factories run by a Daesh-inspired group in the southern portion of Liguasan Marsh in Maguindanao, led to the arrest of two suspects and forced around 10,000 residents out of their homes into evacuation centers.

Fifteen were confirmed killed, eight wounded, and one bomb expert and his wife were arrested in the pre-dawn raid on the terrorist lair.

Opapp on Monday, June 11, called on the evacuees to return home as the operation has already ended.

The ground assault was launched by the 33rd Infantry Battalion led by Lieutenant Colonel Harold M. Cabunoc, 4th Special Action Battalion led by P/Superintendent Darwin Padla, and 61st Division Reconnaissance Company led by First Lieutenant Ruel Fortuna.

The duo who surrendered were identified as Ustadz Anwar Ali, 22, and Asnaya Ali, 20.

"The suspects threw their weapons and improvised bombs in the water when we blocked all their escape routes. Ustadz Anwar is known as Abu Omar, a bomb expert in the group," Cabunoc said.

On Sunday, June 10, 2018, the 6th Infantry Division (ID) of the Philippine Army conducted military operations against a group of Daesh-inspired bomb-makers holed out in the southern portion of Liguasan Marsh in Maguindanao.

"It was a combination of surgical airstrikes on confirmed targets and focused ground operations against the group," a statement from Opapp emailed Monday with regards the military operations last Sunday, June 10, 2018 carried out by the 6th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.

"The operation was successful, resulting in the eradication of identified IED factories. Follow-up operations are also being conducted to ensure that terrorists are confined in the area," the statement said.

Contrary to general beliefs by kibitzers, the operation was conducted with full coordination with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH). The targeted areas were also confined to locations that are far from communities, Opapp said.

Posted by Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process on Sunday, June 10, 2018

After the aerial strikes, Opapp said, Major General Dato’ Mohd Nazir Bin Haji Mami, head of mission of the 13th Mindanao International Monitoring Team (IMT-M13), presided over a coordination meeting among representatives of the GPH CCCH, MILF CCCH, MILF Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG), 6th ID, 602nd Infantry Brigade, and 7th Infantry Battalion.

Affected by the operations were the municipalities of Gen. Salipada K. Pendatun, Paglat and Paglas, all of Maguindanao, the minutes of the meeting with Haji Mami read.

The operation was against the group of Abu Toraipe, the report said.

Brig. Gen. Cirilito E. Sobejana, commander of the 6ID confirmed in the meeting that "the IED factory was hit by the rockets launched by the AFP. The destruction of the said factory was manifested by sympathetic detonations of IEDs when the rockets were fired and per bombing assessment, IEDs and its components are found."

Haji Mami called on the Moro Islamic Front (MILF) to "understand the purpose of the operation and to fully support it by facilitating its implementation in ground by informing the concerned BIAF units."

He suggested that if the MILF areas cannot be avoided, then repositioning of its forces is necessary and the MILF ceasefire mechanisms should facilitate safe passage of the AFP and allow them to maneuver.

MILF AHJAD core member Anwar Alamada said that while the MILF has no objection on the operation for as long as it is properly coordinated because this can affect their members in Camp Rajamuda in Pikit, Cotabato.

Alamada further assured that BIAF-MILF Eastern Mindanao Front Commander Jack Abbas has said he is willing to clear his area of the threat of the terrorists.

The points agreed on in the meeting are:

a. That a coordination meeting on the level of 602nd Brigade and its concerned Battalion like 7IB, PA together with the concerned MILF Commanders and ceasefire mechanisms of both parties will be held at the municipal hall of Pikit, Cotabato to discuss the continuous conduct of military operations and possible cooperation between the GPH and the MILF forces against the group of Abu Toraipe in the Southern portion of Liguasan Marsh;

b. That the MILF ceasefire mechanisms will inform the concerned MILF Commanders on the ground regarding the issues which were clarified during the meeting like the Rajah Muda which is interpreted by the MILF as part of the area of operation. The AFP made a clarification that they will only pass by through the said area;

c. That the MILF ceasefire mechanisms will inform the concerned individuals who are currently evacuating that they should keep calm and go back to their respective communities because they are not the target of the operation, they just probably hear loud explosions from the Southern portion of Liguasan Marsh;

d. That the MILF designated Mr. Faisal Pigkaulan, Member, MILF CCCH to be the liaison officer for this military operation;

e. That time is of the essence. The military are there in the area to sustain the effort and that the MILF should support it;

f. That all parties concerned should help in disseminating that military operations is intended to those individuals or groups spoiling the peace process unlike what is spreading in the social media that military operation is detrimental to the BBL.

Another meeting was held Monday, June 11, where it was agreed that a coordinating team will be established as the operating arm of the CCCH and AHJAG on the ground. This team will be composed of representatives of the AFP, MILF, and local government of Pikit.

Also, 602nd IB commander Colonel Alfredo Rosario was able to meet with representatives of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Region 12 and asked them to inform the evacuees that they can return home since the possibility of further air strikes is now remote.

Initial report of internal displaced persons from municipality of Pikit numbered 130 families with 587 dependents who sought refuge in evacuation centers while 162 families with 729 dependents stayed with relatives. The evacuees came from barangays Buliok, Bagoinged, Rajamudah, Talitay, Inug-ug, and Barungis of Pikit. Evacuation centers are in Fort Pikit Mahad, Inug-ug multipurpose bldg, and Cotabato Foundation College of Science and Technology Batulawan campus, the Pikit municipal disaster risk reduction and management council reported.


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