1 soldier killed, another wounded in violence in southern Philippines

Mark Navales and Jeoffrey Maitem
Cotabato and Davao, Philippines
1 soldier killed, another wounded in violence in southern Philippines Troops secure a highway in Maguindanao province, southern Philippines, May 8, 2021.
[Mark Navales/BenarNews]

Violence marred the eve of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in the southern Philippines after suspects from a pro-Islamic State group killed a soldier and wounded another on Wednesday. 

Troops were securing a highway in the town of Mamasapano in Maguindanao province when militant suspects belonging to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) opened fire at a checkpoint, local army chief Brig. Gen. Oriel Pangcog said. 

The attack instantly killed Pfc. Jorey Abibas while Pfc. Jonathan Nacion was wounded, he said, adding a stray bullet struck a civilian. Nacion’s and the civilian’s injuries were not life threatening.

Pangcog said the militants were possibly responding to the military’s killing of a BIFF commander last month.

“This is in retaliation for that,” Pangcog said.

“We have alerted our detachment and they were looking for the vehicle used by the militants.”

Army troops launched artillery attacks against BIFF positions in the marshes bordering the towns of Pagalungan, Datu Montawal and Pikit following the ambush, said Von Al Haq, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region’s interior minister. 

BIFF is a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which was the country’s largest separatist force before it signed a peace pact with the government in 2014.

BIFF, which has openly supported the Islamic State group, has been blamed for several attacks, including bombings in public areas.

The latest ambush came a day before the country’s Muslim minority was to begin the Islamic holy month of fasting.

A large Muslim minority – more than 6 million of 110 million – lives in the southern part of the Philippines, Asia’s only predominantly Catholic nation.


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