COTABATO: An escalation of fighting between the Philippine army and a breakaway Muslim rebel group in the country’s south killed 18 people in a single day of violence, the military said yesterday.
Seventeen members of the rebel Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and one soldier were slain in the day-long violence on Monday in the strife-torn southern island of Mindanao, Brigadier General Eduardo Pangilinan, the area’s military commander, said.
“One of our soldiers was killed during the (initial) attack. The 17 enemies were killed when our troops fired back and during the subsequent encounters,” the general told reporters.
There was a lull in fighting yesterday but the military remained on alert, with helicopter gunships flying overhead and armoured vehicles parked on the streets of Cotabato City, a trading centre.
“There have been no additional encounters,” Pangilinan added.
Fighting began in the early hours of Monday morning as BIFF guerrillas attacked military outposts in the violence-scarred province of Maguindanao.