Suspected BIFF members attack Mlang village in Cotabato
MLANG, Cotabato - Loud explosions and simultaneous gunfire awakened the residents of Barangay Tibao as fierce fighting broke out between military troops and suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters at 5:30 a.m. Thursday, a local mayor said.
Mayor Joselito Pinol, who immediately rushed to the area, said the gunfight sent residents into panic and made them look for a safer area to stay in.
Pinol disclosed that about 50 to 80 armed men attacked the village and traded bullets with the government forces stationed in the barangay.
Military howitzers were used to fire at the area where the armed men were believed to be based.
Pinol said local Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members stationed in the area denied staging the early morning attack when he contacted them by mobile phone.
“The MILF in the area has denied (the attack) saying they don’t have participation in the ongoing firefight,” Pinol said.
There were no reports of casualties yet, the mayor said.
However some residents in the area have already left their respective homes and temporarily sought refuge at the village hall and at their relatives' homes far from the firefight scene.
Travel along the M'lang-Matalam Highway, which was earlier suspended, has resumed, Pinol said.
The M'lang firefight is the third armed encounter this month between government troops and suspected BIFF members in areas located in the periphery of the the 220,000-hectare Liguasan Marsh.
Earlier, BIFF rebels attacked Midsayap and Tulunan town. —KG, GMA News