Troops pursue renegade MILF guerrillas

04 SEPTEMBER 2012 FERNAN MARASIGAN / REPORTER
GOVERNMENT forces are running after at least 50 members of the breakaway group of the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who deserted their camps following a series of military operations in Maguindanao.

On Tuesday the military announced that the National Police’s Special Action Force (SAF) has joined the pursuit operation against members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), that was tagged as responsible for the series of attacks in the province last month.

In the series of attacks by the BIFF which lasted until August 28, two off-duty soldiers were killed, four soldiers were killed in action, while 23 were wounded. Two civilians were reported killed. The military claimed to have killed 50 BIFF guerrillas.

The group is led by former MILF commander Ameril Umbra Kato who is the subject of several warrants of arrest for multiple murder, arson, attempted murder, frustrated murder and robbery. Umbra Kato has a P10- million reward on his head.

Maj. Gen. Rey Ardo, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry “Kampilan” Division, said several residents tipped off the location of the BIFF gunmen as “civilians are tired of the threat, extortion, terrorism and killings being perpetrated by the BIFF over the past weeks in Maguindanao.”

In addition to the pursuit operation, Ardo said the National Police will also help the military in filing charges against the BIFF members.

Meanwhile, Ardo said members of the Coordinating Committee on Cessation of Hostilities Government of the Republic of the Philippines-MILF (CCCH GRP-MILF) has been working with the government to put a stop to the atrocities being perpetrated by the BIFF and prevent them from further inflicting casualties.

The military said the MILF hierarchy advised its men in the field to halt their movements and assist the government troops by acting as blocking force while the Armed Forces is conducting hot pursuit operations.

“Since the harassment started, the MILF and the government forces through the CCCH have been working closely in order to give way to the focused combat operations and proper identification of MILF camps and positions. This is to avoid misencounter between the troops pursuing the BIFF gunmen and members of the MILF supporting the peace talks,” said the Armed Forces chief of staff, Gen. Jessie Dellosa.

“The law-enforcement operations are in response to the series of harassments conducted by the BIFF who continue to pose a threat to the peace and stability of our country in their selfish intent to derail the ongoing peace process,” he added.

As for the cooperation being accorded by the MILF to the Armed Forces and the National Police, Dellosa said it “puts into real essence the spirit of the whole-of-nation and people-centered approach of winning the peace, as embodied in our IPSP [Integrated Peace and Security Plan] Bayanihan.”

“On the part of the Armed Forces, our troops on the ground will continue its operations to pursue the lawless group while maintaining our support and observance to the ongoing peace negotiation efforts by the government.”

Source http://businessmirror.com.ph/home/nation/32307-troops-pursue-renegade-milf-guerrillas

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