Philippines: 11 breakaway rebels killed in airstrikes
14 Mar 2017 - 12:40
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines: More than 10 members of a breakaway rebel group opposed to a peace process in the Philippines’ majority Muslim south have been killed in airstrikes, according to the military Tuesday.
The 6th Infantry Division’s spokesman said 11 militants from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) -- which has claimed allegiance to IS -- were killed in a two-day offensive in troubled Maguindanao province in Mindanao island.
“There were also undetermined wounded BIFF members and at least 300 families have been forced to flee homes," Capt. Ervin Encina said in a report posted at Western Mindanao Command headquarters.
The offensive had targeted a BIFF leader known as “Kumander Bungos” and three foreign “terrorists” who have encampments in the villages of Andavit and Tee.
GMA News cited Col. Diosdado Carreon, 601st Infantry Brigade commander, as saying that among the foreign companions of Kumander Bungos is a senior member of Jemaah Islamiyah, al-Qaeda’s Southeast Asia affiliate.
Singaporean Mohammad Ali, alias Muawiyah, has a $500,000 bounty on his head.
The BIFF is opposed to the peace process between the government and the country’s one-time largest rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, from which it broke away in 2008.
It has formed a tactical alliance with a local terror outfit known as the Maute group, which has joined forces with Abu Sayyaf militant group leader Isnilon Hapilon -- who IS has endorsed as "emir" for Southeast Asia.
All three groups have pledged allegiance to IS, prompting fears during a stall of the peace process that it could make inroads in a region torn by decades of armed conflict.