15 BIFF rebels slain, bomb expert nabbed in military op

By Francis T. Wakefield

Combined elements of the military and police arrested a bomb expert and his wife after a predawn raid on a terrorist lair yesterday in Maguindanao.

The operation also resulted in the death of 15 members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), wounding of eight others, the destruction of an IED (improvised explosive device) factory of the DAESH-(al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham, translated as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) inspired terrorists recovery of a certain number of IEDs.

The Army’s 6th Infantry Division led by Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana spearheaded the counterterrorist operations against the Dawlah Islamiyah Toraife Group in the boundary between Pagalungan and General Salipada K. Pendatun.

Backed by Philippine Air Force air assets, ground troops of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion led by Lt. Col. Harold M. Cabunoc, 4th Special Action Battalion led by Police Supt. Darwin Padla, and 61st Division Reconnaissance Company led by 1st Lt. Ruel Fortuna, stormed the terrorist lair in the Liguasan marsh.

The terrorists traded fires with the 33rd IB troopers but they were outmaneuvered after about an hour of firefight, prompting two terrorists to surrender.

Cabunoc identified the duo as Ustadz Anwar Ali, 22, and Asnaya Ali, 20. The soldiers confiscated a Cal 50 Sniper Rifle and s Cal 5.56mm M4 Carbine from the suspects.

“The suspects threw their weapons and improvised bombs in the water when we blocked all their escape routes. Ustadz Anwar is known as Abu Omar, a bomb expert in the group,” Cabunoc said.

Sobejana has directed his troops to cordon off all escape routes as another group pursues the remnants of the elusive terrorist group.

“We will not allow these terrorists to spoil the peace in Central Mindanao. We will protect the people against those who espouse violent extremism,” Sobejana, who is the concurrent Joint Task Force central commander, said.