Mar. 14 — ZAMBOANGA CITY — The military on Wednesday claimed to have killed nearly 20 pro-Islamic State (IS) bandits, including a Singaporean terrorist, in massive air and ground assaults on a remote hideout in Maguindanao.
The 6th Infantry Division said the campaign, which began on Monday, was aimed at destroying a big group of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
It said about 20 bandits under Abu Turaife were slain in the assaults in Shariff Saydona town. Among those killed was Muhammad Ali Bin Abd Al Rahman or Muawiya, a notorious jihadist belonging to the Indonesian Jemaah Islamiyagroup, who had been a bomb trainer for the Abu Sayyaf.
The reports were based on intelligence information, but army commanders claimed to have seen or recovered body parts of those killed in an area targeted by heavy military bombardment.
Security forces were pursuing over 100 terrorists in the province, which is also a stronghold of the rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
One soldier was killed and at least seven others were wounded in the clashes.
The military’s Joint Task Force Central (JTFC) said air, artillery and ground operations were unrelenting, not only in Shariff Saydona, but also in the towns of Datu Salibo, Mamasapano and Shariff Aguak where the group of pro-IS bandits, led by commander Salahudin Hassan, was scattered.
“JTFC launched a surgical air and artillery mission to clearly identify and confirmed targets that complemented a focused ground operations against the IS-inspired terrorist group at dawn of March 11. The operation was initiated after a concerned citizen relayed information regarding the consolidation of the fully armed terrorist group in the specific area,” it said on Wednesday.
“Former BIFF rebels who surrendered to JTFC also supported the information being relayed to locate the specific locations of the terror group. Follow-on operations ensured that the terrorists were confined in the area and prevented the spill over as our troops were deployed in strategic areas,” JTFC said, adding that the military also coordinated with the MILF to prevent any accidental clashes while troops were pursuing the BIFF.
Authorities have blamed the BIFF for the series of terror attacks in the restive southern region.
This article is written by Al Jacinto from The Manila Times, Philippines and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.