By Malu Cadelina Manar
KIDAPAWAN CITY – Two soldiers were wounded when they engaged the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) rebels in a firefight in Datu Paglas, Maguindanao, Tuesday dawn, Army reports said.
The wounded soldiers were elements of the 33rd Infantry Battalion of the Army and were among those deployed to run after the BIFF after they received reports the threat group has already settled temporarily in Poblacion, Datu Paglas, according to a report from the 33rd IB.
Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, commander of the 33rd IB, refused to identify the injured soldiers as they have yet to inform first their families and relatives of the situation.
Meantime, the Army has yet to confirm reports if indeed there were four BIFF members who perished during the firefight. According to them, they have not recovered any dead BIFF in the site even after the exchange of fire took place.
Cabunoc said that while firefight was ongoing, the 39th IB has set up road blocks from Barangay Poblacion to Barangay Mayo, both in Datu Paglas, to monitor the presence of the BIFF in the area.
The road blocks, although affected the traffic flow between Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat and Makilala and Kidapawan City in North Cotabato, were necessary to prevent the BIFF from inflicting further harm on the soldiers and the communities.
Residents from war-torn barangays evacuated to the town center of Datu Paglas and sought temporary shelter at the town’s municipal gym while others sought refuge at the homes of their relatives, reports said.
The Army also added the fighting in Datu Paglas town was just a spillover of the military offensives they launched against the BIFF two weeks ago in General SK Pendatun and Pagalungan, Maguindanao.