Ten surrendering members of the Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters provided the Army information that enabled the government to launch an airstrike at the terrorist camp in the marshlands of Maguindanao, military officials said Sunday.
Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Army’s 6th Infantry Division commander, said the surrendering fighters all belonged to the group of Gani Saligan, a sub-commander of the BIFF Karialan faction operating in the area.
READ: 10 NPA rebels yield to AFP brass in Iligan, Davao Occidental
Two Air Force planes bombed Sitio Tatak, Barangay Tugal, Sultan sa Barongis, Maguindanao, destroying foxholes and running trenches of the terrorist group Saturday morning.
Brig. Gen. Diosdado Carreon, commander of the 601st Infantry Brigade, said the 10 BIFF fighters surrendered for three reasons.
“These are their desire to be with their families and children, and even grandchildren, the continued and relentless military pursuit operations against them, and the benefits of returning to the fold of the law as experienced by their other comrades who yielded earlier,” he said.
Among those who surrendered were bomb experts trained by Malaysian bomb-maker Zulkifli bin Hir alias “Marwan.”
Marwan died during a covert police raid in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25, 2015, in which 44 police commandoes died.
Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu said the children and relatives of the surrendering BIFF members may be qualified for a scholarship program the government is offering for them.
“Even former BIFF fighters who wish to study will be given priority,” he said.
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana acknowledged that US troops were assisting the Philippine Army in its anti-terrorist operations in Mindanao, including airlifting soldiers wounded in fighting against the Abu Sayyaf Group in Patikul, Sulu.
READ: Jolo blasts: 20 dead, 81 hurt
The US also provided intelligence on possible terrorist threats, Lorenzana said.
“They have been helping us track these terrorists even before the bombing,” Lorenzana said, referring to the Jan. 27 bomb attack on a Catholic church that killed 22 people in Jolo, Sulu.
Also on Monday, ABS-CBN reported that Staff Sgt. Jerry Lubiano, who was wounded twice during the 2017 Marawi siege, was among the soldiers killed in fighting with the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu.
His remains, along with those of 4 other slain soldiers were brought to the Western Mindanao Command on Sunday night for full military honors, the broadcast network reported.
READ: Army-Sayyaf clash: 8 dead, 20 wounded
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