At least 15 members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were killed during a military operation in Liguasan Marsh in Maguindanao over the weekend, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said.
"Fifteen were confirmed killed, 10 were injured, and two others were captured," Sixth Infantry Division Commander Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana said.
"This was validated by our reliable sources," he added.
This came as government troops on Sunday conducted a military operation in the southern Liguasan Marsh area, where the main explosives facility of the BIFF was destroyed.
Residents in areas near the marsh, including an estimated 10,000 in Pikit, Cotabato, have evacuated the area as the offensives continued.
According to Sobejana, the two captured BIFF members are currently being interrogated. They were identified as Ustadz Anwar Ali, 22, and Asnaya Ali, 20.
"The suspects threw their weapons and improvised bombs in the water when we blocked all their escape routes. Ustadz Anwar is known as Abu Omar, a bomb expert in the group," Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc of the 33rd Infantry Battalion said.
The military confiscated a .50 caliber sniper rifle, and a 5.56 mm M4 Carbine from the suspects.
The military likewise recovered three improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and bomb components from the area.
Follow-on operations were also conducted to ensure that the terrorists were confined in the area and to prevent a spillover to nearby towns. — Jon Viktor D. Cabuenas/BM, GMA News