ARMY SEIZES IED IN CLASH WITH BIFF IN MAGUINDANAO
COTABATO CITY – Army troopers recovered a powerful improvised explosive device (IED) after a brief clash with members of the Islamic State-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Sultan sa Barongis, Maguindanao on Thursday.
Major Arvin John Encinas, spokesperson of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said members of the Army’s 40th Infantry Battalion (IB) acted on a tip by locals about the possible transport of the IED via the tributary of the Rio Grande de Mindanao River in Barangay Darampua, Sultan sa Barongis.
He said members of the BIFF Abu Toraife faction led by sub-commander Salahuddin Hassan would transport the IED in river tributaries towards Midsayap, Cotabato, en route to Cotabato City from their lair in Barangay Kabasalan, Pikit, North Cotabato.
“The improvised bomb is being transported through the use of a motorized banca utilizing the small channels of Rio Grande River,” Encinas said in a phone interview by the Philippine News Agency.
He said 40th IB troopers led by Lt. Roel Jardinez quickly moved and positioned themselves along the riverbank in Sitio Landing Fish, Barangay Darampua, in response to the tip.
At about 9:30 a.m., a five-minute clash transpired between government troopers and the bomb-carrying BIFF elements in the area.
The BIFF militants later withdrew to various directions, leaving behind the small boat carrying the bomb.
Recovered by soldiers was an IED composed of three 81 mm. mortar explosives attached to a triggering device.
“We are just fortunate that communities in Sultan sa Barongis and other parts of the province are cooperating with us to put a stop to the nefarious activities of the terror group,” Encinas said.
On Dec. 31, a bomb ripped through the façade of the South Seas Mall in this city leaving two dead and scores wounded.
The military said the mall bombing bore the signature style of the BIFF compared to the terror group’s past bombing missions in Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato, and South Cotabato provinces.