Maguindanao locals join military in clearing communities of improvised explosives

COTABATO CITY–The Army here said civilians in conflict-affected area in Maguindanao are helping the government clear their communities of improvised bombs supposedly planted by an ISIS-inspired group.

A proof of this, according to Lt. Colonel Gerry Besana, chief of the 6th Infantry Divisions Civil Military Operations (CMO) Battalion, was the surrender of civilians of un-exploded ordnance they found in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao on Friday.

The Army and its allies, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), have been fighting against a Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) faction.

The clashes that started in late July have left at least 50 fatalities from both the MILF and the BIFF.

Fighting erupted when the BIFF tried to hoist ISIS black flag in MILF identified communities in Barangays Andavit and Tee in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao.

The MILF sent Task Force Ittihad (Unity) to the two villages to convince the outlawed group not to hoist ISIS flag. Instead, the BIFF set off bombs that left 10 MILF injured. The incident triggered a sporadic firefight.

Besana said the military was elated with the good gesture of the civilians. The act of turning over the IEDs to authorities, he said, in turn save civilians from unnecessary injury or death in their localities.

“Approximately five kilograms of assorted improvised explosive devices (IEDs) believed to be made by followers of Abu Toraypi were surrendered by civilians to the personnel of the Civil-Military Operations Battalion in Sitio Gadong, Barangay Pagatin 2, Datu Salibo, Maguindanao on Friday,” Colonel Besana said.

He said it was the result of the massive information campaign being conducted in support to the 601st Infantry Brigade and 6th ID’s campaign against the terror group in the area.

“The IEDs pose great hazards and threats to the civilians in the area. It is being used by the BIFF to inflict casualties to pursuing AFP soldiers and MILF fighters and to protect them in their strongholds which were recently cleared after fierce clashes for more than two months now,” Besana added. /jpv

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