KUALA LUMPUR: The Philippines armed forces have killed 28 members of the pro-Islamic State Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in military operations to pre-empt attacks by the militants.
They had planned to launch “large-scale and simultaneous bombings” targeting several cities in central Mindanao before the onset of Eid Fitr celebrations this Friday (Jun 15).
The military operations, launched on Sunday, is ongoing as of Tuesday in the Liguasan Marsh that straddles three provinces - Maguindanao, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat - on Mindanao island in the southern Philippines.
“The operation was launched as information from the ground revealed that the BIFF is planning to conduct large-scale, simultaneous bombings in cities … before the celebration of Eid Fitr,” Lieutenant-General Dela Vega, commander of Western Mindanao Command, told Channel NewsAsia.
Military intelligence sources told Channel NewsAsia that the cities targeted by BIFF militants include General Santos, Kidapawan and Cotabato on Mindanao island.
“The (armed forces’) thrust is to rid the area of terrorist groups to prevent them from bringing havoc during the observance of Eid Fitr. They (BIFF) bring nothing but destruction,” said Dela Vega.
“We have to perform our mandate to protect the people,” he added.
The army also carried out air strikes which destroyed an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) factory in the Liguasan Marsh.
One soldier and one civilian were also killed in the clashes. Another three civilians were injured during the three-day operation.
Several M16s, pistols, ammunition, hand grenades and others were seized during the operations.