Seven killed in southern Philippines clashes

TACURONG, Philippines, January 3 – The death toll in fresh clashes in the southern Philippines reached seven, two of the government troops, a military official said.

The fighting in the provinces of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat erupted after members of breakaway Muslim rebels attacked government military detachments, leaving two soldiers and five rebels dead.

Col. Melquiadez Feliciano, commander of the 601st Infantry Brigade, said BIFF rebels attacked a military post around 12:00 midnight Friday in the town of General SK Pendatun, Maguindanao.

The incident left a soldier dead and three others wounded. More than 50 families have also fled to safer grounds for fear of their safety.

Feliciano identified the slain soldier as Corporal Daniel Valenzuela while wounded were Privates First Class Gerry Gorgonio, Bryan Baylon and Joel Abellar, all members of the 33rd Infantry Battalion.

“Our men managed to return fire and they killed five rebels,” he said.

The military have deployed additional troops in the town to pursue the perpetrators.

Captain Joan Petinglay, spokesperson for the Army’s 6th Division, said earlier on same day suspected members of BIFF also harassed two of their outpost in nearby town of President Querino in Sultan Kudarat. The attacks, according to her, left one soldier dead.

“Our troops from the 33rd Infantry Battalion are conducting clearing operation in the area,” Petinglay said.

Army Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, chief of 6th Division, assured the public safety, adding troops were pursuing the attackers.

The BIFF has carried out many deadly attacks in a bid to disrupt the peace negotiations between the MILF and the government.

The BIFF is the armed wing of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement which broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2010 as a result of disagreements over the conduct of peace talks with the government. (End)

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