Philippine Military: 2 Women Linked to BIFF Killed by Bomb Blast

Jeoffrey Maitem and Mark Navales
Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Philippines
2021-04-29
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Philippine Military: 2 Women Linked to BIFF Killed by Bomb Blast Moro Islamic Liberation Front members, local police and military forces secure a government facility in the village of Kitango, in the town of Datu Saudi Ampatuan in Maguindanao, Philippines, following clashes between security forces and militants linked to the Islamic State, April 29, 2021.
Mark Navales/BenarNews

Violence involving government forces and pro-Islamic State militants erupted anew in the town of Datu Saudi Ampatuan in the southern Philippines, leaving two women dead and six people injured, including a senior militant leader, the military said Thursday.

A bomb explosion in Maguindanao province on Wednesday morning killed the pair who the military said were linked to members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). 

The military said the women – identified as Bahria Alon, 40, and Lagabai Mohalidin, 24, – were traveling with BIFF spokesman Abu Jihad when a bomb he was carrying prematurely exploded. Jihad was able to escape.

“Alon and Mohalidin were killed. One of them was a wife of a BIFF commander. They were traveling with Jihad when the explosion occurred,” army Col. Pete Balisi, commander of the 1st Mechanized Brigade, told BenarNews, adding that a third civilian was injured. 

Balisi said Jihad was able to escape.

“Based on the accounts of our witnesses, he was wounded,” Balisi said.

The women were not considered as enemy combatants but as civilians linked to BIFF, he said.

The blast forced at least 549 families to evacuate their homes for safer grounds, local disaster officials reported.

Also on Wednesday, four soldiers were injured in a separate explosion while they were pursuing the militants, according to regional military spokesman Lt. Col. John Paul Baldomar.

The blasts come a little more than a month after 14 BIFF militants died in a series of clashes in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, the region where the militants have evaded troops for years by hiding in jungle and swamp areas. 

The BIFF is a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which signed a peace deal with Manila and controls a Muslim autonomous area in the south. 

In January, BIFF militants carried out two roadside bombings in the south that killed three and injured scores of people. In 2019, the group carried out a series of bomb attacks in the south targeting a market and a restaurant that injured more than two dozen people.

BIFF members pledged allegiance to the Islamic State whose supporters launched an attack on the southern city of Marawi in 2017 that left more than 1,200 militants, security forces and civilians dead as a result of the five-month siege. 

While BIFF did not send fighters to Marawi, it carried out diversionary attacks elsewhere.

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