COTABATO CITY, Philippines — The military claims to have killed at least 31 Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in a week of fighting within Maguindanao province’s so-called SPMS Box — for the towns of Shariff Aguak, Pagatin (Datu Saudi), Mamasapano and Shariff Saydona.
However, BIFF spokesman Abu Misrie Mama scoffed at this as he belied reports BIFF leader Ustadz Ismael Abubakar, also known as Commander Bungos, had been killed in the hostilities, that saw government forces unleash air strikes and artillery barrages.
The BIFF spokesman acknowledged that a nephew of Abubakar, who he identified as Commander Khalid, had been killed and four other fighters wounded.
Units of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, from which the BIFF broke away close to 10 years ago, have pulled out of the conflict area to avoid misencounters with government troops.
On the government side, the military said seven soldiers have been wounded.