Army, MILF clash ‘incidental’ PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 12 February 2016 12:09

The military and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MNLF) on Thursday described the clash between their forces the previous day as “incidental and unfortunate” and vowed to further strengthen  the ceasefire mechanism to avoid such misencounter.

A soldier and an MILF fighter were killed in a firefight Wednesday after troops from the Army’s 601st Reconnaisance Company pursuing gunmen of the splinter group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF), stepped into the MILF’s 105th base command in the village of Madia, Datu Saudi Ampatuan town, Maguindanao province.

Capt. Joann Petinglay, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, told the state-run Philippine News Agency (PNA) that soldiers of 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade were securing a government dredging project in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao, when they came under attack from BIFF guerrillas.

”They were part of the perimeter security of the project that has been repeatedly harassed by lawless groups,” Petinglay said.

Petinglay said while soldiers were running after the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, they incidentally clashed with MILF forces,” she said, adding the mis-encounter was “very brief.”

She said the encounter lasted less than an hour that left Army Sgt. Ronilo Quimbo seriously injured. He later died in the military hospital.

She said the military law enforcement operation against the BIFF was well coordinated with the GPH-MILF ceasefire committee. “It was unfortunate it happened,” she said.

Von Al Haq, MILF vice chair for military affairs, was quoted as saying the Army offensive agains the BIFF was coordinated with the ceasefire mechanism implementer “but something wrong somewhere.”

He said the MILF is investigating the incident.

Al Haq admitted one MILF fighter was killed and two others wounded in the clash.

“The Army unintentionally stepped into the area of MILF 105th base command and the MILF thought they were under attack,” he said.

Petinglay said the Army has expanded the security radius of the dredging project in Datu Salibo town and it reached Barangay Madia where the MILF base is located.

She it was not intentional to attack the MILF in Madia.

Both Petinglay and Al Haq said the GPH-MILF ceasefire mechanism has been strengthened following the misencounter.

Petinglay said the Army is still pursuing the BIFF who had been harassing the development project in Datu Salibo town.