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Military Offensive Continues; BIFF Death Toll Reaches 96

The Armed Forces of the Philippines has extended its offensive against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) for three more days.

AFP chief General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. ordered the extension of the offensive that has so far killed 96 BIFF rebels and six government troops.

AFP spokesperson Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said the extension was requested by General Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the Army’s Sixth Infantry Division.

“We will continue the relentless pursuit operations against the lawless armed groups until they are effectively neutralized and unable to conduct atrocities against civilian communities,” Cabunoc said.

According to Cabunoc, the military launched air and ground attacks supported by artillery fires as intense firefight between the bandits and government troops occurred in the boundaries of Datu Salibo-Datu Piang and in Barangay Pusao, Sharif Saidona Mustapha in Maguindanao.

The fighting yielded 23 more casualties on the BIFF side, bringing the bandits’ death toll to a total of 96. And with 30 more BIFF reported wounded on Tuesday, the total number of injured militants is now 63.

“As of reporting time, the troops accounted 23 killed among the BIFF bandits who were engaged by the troops in the swampy areas of Datu Piang-Datu Salibu towns,” said Cabunoc.

The government troops also lost two soldiers from the Marine Battalion Landing Team 8 in the encounter in Datu Saibo and Datu Piang.

“To date, the AFP has logged six soldiers killed and 31 wounded since the start of the all-out law enforcement operations against the BIFF in Maguindanao,” Cabunoc said.

The military offensive was launched in an effort to neutralize the bandit group coddling wounded Filipino bomb maker Abdul Basit Usman and five alleged members of the Jemaah Islamiyah.