The military said on Monday soldiers had captured a camp of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Datu Salibo town after 24 days of ground and air assault. Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan said the BIFF camp in Barangay Tee was fully occupied late Sunday, by the military, following heavy clashes that left one soldier killed and five others wounded.
Pangilinan described the BIFF bailiwick as a “minefield” – laden with undetermined number of ordnance. He said the BIFF forces manning the camp had fled. “Bombs litter the village,” Lt. Colonel Ambrosio Rustia, the commander of the 57th Infantry Battalion, said. Rustia said the Philippine flag has been hoisted in Barangay Tee but some 300 families, who had fled the village at the height of the fighting, have been prevented from returning home until the military could declare the area clear of unexploded ordnance. “It would be a very dangerous area right now if civilians were to return home as the bombs could not be easily seen,” Pangilinan said.
The military could not say how many BIFF fighters were killed in the 24 days of law enforcement operations – which started when the BIFF harassed a private construction company conducting the dredging of Butilen River in the said town.