Military 105 howitzer cannons, backed by helicopter gunships, pounded on positions of the Bangsamoro Islamic Liberation Front (BIFF) overnight at the boundaries of three towns in Maguindanao which led to a mass evacuation of Teduray families in the area.
Capt. John Encinas, Army’s 6th Infantry Division, pointed to Mt. Firis as the site of battle, an ancestral land of the Teduray natives situated at the boundaries of Datu Unsay, Datu Hofer and Datu Saudi Ampatuan towns.
“The BIFF harassed our troops from the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion in the area so we initiated artillery and airstrike maneuvers from 5 p.m. Thursday to 4 a.m. Friday in a bid to flush them out,” Encinas said.
Jobel Tenorio, an evacuee from Sitio Bagong, Datu Saudi town said over 100 BIFF militants occupied their community Friday, prompting them to leave behind their houses and personal belongings in no time.
“Gunfire could be heard overnight from three sides of Mt. Firis, so we decided to leave home,” Tenorio said in vernacular.
Since Dec. 25, intermittent gunbattles erupted between state forces and IS-linked BIFF terrorists in Mt. Firis, sending in trickles Teduray villagers to evacuation centers currently numbering close to 400 families.
Encinas said the BIFF torched houses at Teduray communities that they occupy in battling government forces at Mt. Firis, considered as a scared ground among the Tedurays.
“There would be no let up on finishing off the BIFF terrorists in Mt. Firis,” Encinas stressed.
The provincial government of Maguindanao has attended to needs of the Teduray natives at designated evacuation centers in the affected towns. (PNA)