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Army captures BIFF base in Maguindanao

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao, Aug. 14 (PNA) -- The military here announced the capture on Tuesday afternoon of a major camp of renegade Moro rebels who launched atrocities in Maguindanao that left at least 28 people dead and thousands of people displaced. 

Colonel Prudencio Asto, chief of the 6th Infantry Division public affairs office, said elements of the 6th ID and the 601st Infantry Brigade, backed by helicopter gunships and artillery fires captured at 3 p.m. Tuesday Hill 714 in Datu Hoffer, Maguindanao. 

Asto would not say how many Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were killed following the air strikes and ground assaults, but he stressed no casualty was reported on government side. 

"The hill served as the command and control point and stronghold of the BIFF," Asto said.
According to Asto, the camp used to be the staging point for the BIFF bandits in planning their atrocities against soldiers and civilians in nearby communities. 

"The 6ID is now securing the hill to prevent members of BIFF lawless group from recovering their lost ground," he said. 

He said on orders of Maj. Gen. Rey Ardo, 6th Infantry Division commander the military is is now coordinating with the local government units, the Department of Agriculture and other line government agencies for the development of the former bandits’ enclave. 

With the capture of Hill 714, farmers nearby can now grow their crops without fear of attacks from the bandits. 

Claiming they wanted to avenge the death of a comrade last June 23, the BIFF, numbering about 500, launched simultaneous attacks in Maguindanao's seven municipalities, attacking Army and para military detachments. 

The atrocities led to the death of six soldiers, four civilians and more than 20 BIFF fighters, according to Asto. 

About 30,000 civilians have been displaced and portions of the highway linking Cotabato and Gen. Santos had been closed for five days until it was reopened for public use last Friday. 

Asto said sporadic fighting is still ongoing as BIFF forces still continue to fire at and harass Army installations in the towns of Datu Saudi, Datu Unsay, Datu Hoffer, Datu Piang, Shariff Aguak and Ampatuan.

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Philippine News Agency | August 14, 2012 | Article Link

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