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Troops overrun BIFF's main IED factory in Maguindanao —official

Government troops destroyed Sunday the main explosives facility of rogue Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a military official said.

Sixth Infantry Division Commander Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana said in an interview that there is an ongoing military operation in the southern Linguasan Marsh area in Maguindanao, and soldiers have overrun the BIFF's main improvised explosive device (IED) workshop.

While he did not disclose the exact location of the factory, Sobejana noted that the IED emplacements are located in crowded areas.

He said that the troops are undertaking carefully the clearing operations as the target areas are populated.

According to him, the operation began at about 4 a.m. in the southern Liguasan, covering a large area with no specific barangay or municipal jurisdiction.

"There is no specific barangay or sitio or municipality kasi scattered din sila around the area. But one thing is, very deliberate itong ginawa namin and we have to make sure na walang innocent civilians na maaapektuhan," he said.

Also, as much as possible, he said, the operation should be done carefully in order not to compromise the ongoing peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), from which the renegade BIFF had broken away.

Sobejana clarified there is no armed confrontation with the rebels, so far into the operation, but he stressed that the military needs to use all available capabilities and means (airstrike, bombardment by howitzers, indirect fires, among other methods), and deploy a reasonable force to "neutralize" the target.

Troops are deployed around the IED manufacturing facility in the marsh.

Asked if there were casualties during the assault, he said there is no accounting yet. "Basically katubigan po ito, siguro lumubog na yung iba."

He said details of the operation that resulted in the destruction of the IED facility will be disclosed as soon as data from the field come in.

Based on estimates from the ground, government forces are dealing with some 60 to 100 BIFF forces, Sobejana said.

But there is no direct confrontation so far. There is resistance, "nagpaputok sila pero naka-close in kaagad ang mga tropa natin. The enemy scampered to different places." —LBG, GMA News