Maguindanao del Norte, Philippines - A military offensive in Datu Hoffer Ampatuan town in Maguindanao del Sur on Friday afternoon resulted in the deaths of eleven members of the extremist group Dawlah Islamiya (DI). The operation was part of ongoing efforts to combat terrorism in the region.
According to Philippines News Agency, the ground troops were supported by artillery fire from the 40th IB and other units under the 601IBde. The clearing operations that followed led to the recovery of five M16 rifles, two M14 assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, and five improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Balogan confirmed that all 11 DI members were killed in the operation, and their remains were handed over to the local government of Datu Hoffer Ampatuan.
Major Saber Balogan, the civil-military operations chief of the Army's 601st Infantry Brigade (601IBde), reported in an interview on Saturday that the firefight began at 1 p.m. and lasted over three hours. The clash occurred when elements of the Army's 40th Infantry Battalion, conducting patrol operations, encountered members of the DI-Hassan Group in Barangay Tuwayan Mother.
He also noted that there were no casualties on the government side and no civilians were affected, as the site of the firefight was distant from residential areas. The DI-Hassan Group is believed to be responsible for a series of bombings on passenger buses in Maguindanao Sur and Sultan Kudarat over the past three years and attacks against government forces in the province.
This military success follows closely after a significant event on November 30, where 13 members of the DI surrendered to the Army's 6th Infantry Division in South Cotabato province. Major General Alex S. Rillera, the commander of the 6th ID and head of Joint Task Force Central, stated that these members, part of the DI-Maguid Group, surrendered with their firearms to the Army's 5th Special Force Battalion in Barangay Kablon, Tupi, South Cotabato. Along with their surrender, they handed over six assorted high-powered firearms and six IEDs.