The military has blamed the Daesh-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) for the ambush of a town mayor on Sunday and the continuous harassment against indigenous peoples (IP) communities in South Upi, Maguindanao.
Lt. Col. Anhouvic Atilano, speaking for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said Monday the BIFF was behind the harassment of civilian communities in Barangay Itaw, South Upi, and the ambush of town Mayor Reynalbert Insular who escaped unhurt.
During the ambush, a hitchhiker identified as Thelmo Divinagracia Sasi, was killed while three others – King Sasi, John Andro Tumbaga, and Pao Dalimbang – were injured in the 2 p.m. ambush in Barangay Pandan, South Upi, Maguindanao.
Initial reports said no one was killed from the ambush.
“The BIFF wanted to grab the ancestral lands of the Teduray people in Barangay Itaw,” Atilano said in a phone interview.
He said five BIFF combatants were killed when two attack helicopters fired rockets and bullets at the fleeing BIFF after the ambush.
“Elements of 57th Infantry Battalion extracted the ambush victims at the site while artillery fires were launched against the attackers,” Atilano said.
A resident said the slain gunmen were taken by their fleeing comrades as they rushed toward the upland communities of Datu Saudi Ampatuan and Talayan, also in Maguindanao.Insular said he and the town’s disaster risk reduction and management council went to Barangay Itaw Sunday morning to extend relief aid to some 599 families affected by the BIFF harassment on January 1. SOVEREIGNPH