MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Cirilito Sobejana called on local officials and residents in Maguindanao to remain vigilant despite the thwarted attack of the members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
“I enjoin the populace of and local leaders in Maguindanao to remain vigilant as we continue our watch until peace is stabilized,” Sobejana said in a statement.
On Saturday, around 20 BIFF members led by Mohiden Animbang a.k.a. Karialan occupied the Datu Paglas public market.
But state security forces drove them away before they could attack civilian residents.
No civilian or military casualties were reported.
Elements from the Joint Task Central and the 601st Infantry Brigade dealt with the group, which has been the subject of intense military operations for the past days, the AFP said.
Karialan and his group were said to be the ones behind the reported explosions in Datu Saudi Ampatuan in March 2021 and caused the death of two civilians and wounding of two others.
“The extremist groups were forced to withdraw in the same morning after security forces were able to isolate the area. The national highway was again open for public commuters at around 10:30 in the morning of the same day after the clearing of the area was confirmed by security forces,” JTF Central spokesperson Lt. Col. John Baldomar said.
The military recovered four improvised explosive devices left by the BIFF members.
Sobjana said the situation has already normalized but assured that security forces “will not rest until the threat is neutralized.”
“Let us continue to engage local government authorities, stakeholders, and civilians to ensure that peace and security in Datu Paglas and its neighboring towns are preserved,” Sobejana said.