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Phl Army braces for retaliatory attacks from rebels
THE Philippine military on Tuesday said it has established more checkpoints and prepared its military hardware as the Army is anticipating retaliations from Moro bandits after they lost 17 men in a fierce firefight Monday.
Among the fatalities from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) side was a ranking leader identified only as “Commander City Hunter.”
The Army’s division commander, Major General Edmundo Pangilinan, said 17 BIFF members were killed in about five hours of firefight after they attempted to retake Ganta Village in Shariff Saydona, Maguindanao province, the BIFF’s former main base seized by the Army in January.
He admitted one soldier was killed in the firefight that started after midnight Monday.
Commander City Hunter, a foreign trained cleric, was a close aide of Ameril Umbra Kato, founding chair of the BIFF.
Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesman of the 6th Infantry Division, said also killed in the Army-BIFF encounters at the villages of Ganta and Damablas, in Datu Piang town, were four other bandits whom villagers identified as Driz Salik, Mashud Ali, Nur Hassan, and Mantawil Kaliga.
Taking a cue from previous tactics of the BIFF, Hermoso has warned the public against diversionary attacks by the ragtag armed men.
Hermoso said the BIFF has already started its diversionary tactics when it attacked at 9 p.m. Monday a militia detachment in Baliki Village, Midsayap, North Cotabato.
Nobody was hurt in the attack but it caused panic among villagers who have experienced similar harassment in the past.
Meanwhile, three of the nine civilians hurt in a crossfire when the BIFF attacked the Army base have been evacuated to the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center due to serious injuries.
According to Laisa Alamia, executive secretary of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the region’s Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Response Team (HEART) personnel have been attending to the needs of the displaced families and those who were hurt in the firefight.