Military forces foiled attempts by outlawed Moro gunmen to over-run an Army and police detachments in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, a military official said.
Colonel Warlito Limet, commander of 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion, could not say how many were killed on the side of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
"We can only surmise that they suffered heavy casualty, we have not recovered dead bodies," he said.
At 7:45 Tuesday night, about 50 heavily armed BIFF, led by commander Abo Sayden, harassed the police detachment of Datu Salibo municipal police office but quickly retreated as the Army came to the cops' rescue by firing mortars towards the BIFF location.
As the gunmen were leaving toward the marshy area, they fired at the transformer of Maguindanao Electric Cooperative (Magelco) sending a large portion of Datu Salibo without light.
There were sporadic exchange of mortars between the bandits and the Army until about 4 a.m., Limet said.
At the break of dawn, the BIFF also tried to over run a nearby military detachment in Barangay Sambolawan, also in Datu Salibo.
But prepared soldiers pushed the attackers away.
No casualty on the government side, Limet said.
Earlier, the BIFF blamed the MILF for the death of a sub-commander last week. Its spokesperson, Abu Misry Mama, said soldiers attacked the house of Commander Ismael Tamarin which led to his death.
But Limet said there was no military operation in Datu Salibo last week or early this week. Army offensive was only launched Tuesday night when the BIFF harassed a police detachment.
"Commander Tamarin could have been killed by an armed group he was in conflict with," Limet told reporters.
A few number of civilians have fled to nearby village for fear of getting involved in the clashes.
Limet also assured commuters using the Isulan, Sultan Kudarat to Cotabato City highway that road security have been in place.
Elements of 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion of 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade have been placed on alert since last week of November to ensure safety of civilians during the holidays.
Source: Philippines News Agency