COTABATO CITY – Pro-ISIS militants shot a pair of military drones hovering near their encampment where security forces battled a huge group of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters or BIFF in southern Philippines.
The military has confirmed that two of its drones deployed in the troubled province of Maguindanao were both shot by militants, but it did not elaborate on the extent of damage suffered by the air crafts.
Soldiers fired several rounds of howitzer on suspected BIFF encampment in Ampatuan town as troops advanced to capture the remote area in Salman village from the militant group, blamed by authorities for terrorism and spate of attacks on civilians and military in Maguindanao and nearby provinces.
Sporadic fighting erupted on Tuesday and continued until the next day after troops were dispatched in the town where BIFF gunmen had converged and were suspected of preparing to launch offensives against security forces, and probably targeting police and military posts in Maguindanao, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.
There were no immediate reports of casualties from both sides, but raw military intelligence reports suggest that there had been a sizeable number of militants either killed or wounded in the battle.
The fierce fighting coincided with the surrender of many pro-ISIS militants in Maguindanao, a known stronghold of the rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF which signed an interim peace deal with Manila in 2014.
It was unknown whether any member of the MILF took part or fought alongside BIFF, a brake away faction of the rebel group which is campaigning for an autonomous region in the mineral-rich, but volatile Mindanao. The BIFF pledged allegiance to ISIS and has been fighting for the establishment of a caliphate in the South. (Mindanao Examiner)
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