BIFF attacks another town in N. Cotabato
COTABATO CITY (UPDATE 1) - Suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) attacked another town in North Cotabato province on Tuesday, a day after sowing violence in several barangays in Midsayap town.
Authorities said about 80 armed men entered the town of Tulunan at around 7 a.m. today and harassed the security guards of Del Monte Fruits and members of a civilian volunteer organization in Barangay Dungos.
At least one security guard was wounded in the firefight but is now out of danger. The firefight is still ongoing as of posting time.
Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesman of the 6th Infantry Division, confirmed that BIFF men coming from Maguindanao launched the attack in Tulunan.
"This is a different group. Those in Midsayap yesterday is very far from Tulunan. Tulunan is just along the shoreline of Liguasan Marsh near the town of SK Pendatun of Maguindanao," he told ANC.
Hermoso said authorities were surprised by the attack, noting that previous incidents of violence in Tulunan were usually sparked by family feuds and fights over land. He said the fighting in Barangay Dungos is far from the town center.
Residents living near the Del Monte packing plant have left their homes and sought refuge in the poblacion.
The spokesman said they have enough forces to prevent a spillover of the violence.
The BIFF launched an attack in Midsayap on Monday where at least 14 people were held hostage and several guerrillas and soldiers were killed.
In his Twitter account, Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc of the AFP public information office chief said Army troops found two civilians executed by BIFF in two separate places in Midsayap town.
One hostage, Ricarte Dionio, 31, of Barangay Malingao, was beheaded while another victim, Erwin Viloan of Sitio Babonao, Barangay Agriculture, was shot in the head by the BIFF.
Victims of BIFF attackers: Ricardo Dionio-decapitated in Dimapulot village; Erwin Viloan-shot in the head in Sitio Babonao, Bgy Agriculture.
— LtCol Harold Cabunoc (@HaroldCabunoc94) September 24, 2013
As of Tuesday, all 14 hostages have been released, according to Interior Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas II.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines is now investigating whether or not the incident is connected to the ongoing standoff in Zamboanga City between the Moro National Liberation Front and government forces. With reports by Lerio Bompat, ABS-CBN News Central Mindanao; and ANC