By Aaron Recuenco
Suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) attempted to carry out bomb attacks on local military forces in Ampatuan town of Maguindanao amid nine of its members surrendered to the government in the area.
Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the 6th Infantry Division, said there were actually two bomb attacks that were carried out in just a span of 15 minutes, the first was at around 9 a.m. on Friday in Barangay Poblacion of Ampatuan town.
The target, he said, was a group of soldiers who were conducting ocular inspection for a planned military activity with the local residents.
“When the troops were about to respond on the area of blast site, another suspected improvised explosive device exploded 15 minutes after the first explosion. The second explosion was 100 meters away from the site of the first explosion,” said Sobejana.
Sobejana said the attacks were carried out by BIFF men under Samad Simpal.
“Simpal and his men want to take revenge for the military troops’ (6th Infantry Division) continued launch of operation against the terror group BIFF,” Sobejana said.
There were no government troops reportedly hurt during the explosions but it caused panic among the residents, according to Sobejana.
The attacks occurred after nine BIFF members surrendered to the security forces in General Salipada K. Pendatun in Maguindanao.
“The rebels surrendered to 33rd Infantry Battalion led by Commander Banog, a prominent BIFF field commander in the area,” said Col. Robert Dauz, commander of the 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade.
Banog arranged a meeting with 33rd IB commander Lt. Col. Harold M. Cabunoc on October 20 to formalize their surrender and lay down their arms to the government.
Banog said in their meeting that his family members were instrumental in convincing him to finally surface in the name of peace.
The former rebels handed over nine high-powered firearms including two caliber 50 sniper rifles, three rocket-propelled grenade launchers, one M16 assault rifle, one M14 Rifle, and two 40mm M79 grenade launchers.