BIFF attacks in N. Cotabato now contained – AFP

MANILA-- The incident involving the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Pigcawayan town, North Cotabato is now contained despite sporadic skirmishing with government security forces.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo, in a press briefing Wednesday, however, clarified that the BIFF attack is no way connected with the ongoing clearing operations in Marawi City.

The BIFF attacks centered on Barangays Malagakit and Simsiman where a militia detachment was located.

The bandits were aided by their private armed group allies in these series of attacks.

"Skirmishes are still ongoing as they withdrew in a nearby school but what we can say is the incident is now contained. There is nothing to be worried about," he added in Filipino.

Arevalo said he has no information on the number of BIFF attackers and the hostages they are holding right now.

He added that the attacks are a way of the BIFF showing that they are still a force to reckon with and has nothing to do with ongoing government efforts to clear Marawi City of its remaining Maute Group attackers.

The military official stressed that operations in Marawi City are now nearing its conclusion but did not give exact figures nor date for its completion, adding that military units only need to capture a few remaining holdouts of the terrorist group, stressing that progress is only being impeded by snipers, improvised explosive devices and the deplorable use of the bandits of human shields.

Arevalo also said these unprovoked attacks disrupted the peace and disturbed the religious observance of the Ramadhan.

The AFP public affairs office chief added that the military has planned contingency measures for such incidents.

Source: Philippines News Agency