MANILA – At least five militants were killed and five soldiers were wounded in the Mindanao Island in Philippines after government troops clashed with rebels of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters group, military sources said on Wednesday.
The clash took place Tuesday early morning in the Carmen town of the Cotabato province, when a group of soldiers ran into 10 rebels, said Arvin Encinas, spokesperson of the army’s 6th Infantry Division, according to GMA news.
After the first exchange of fire, the military command ordered an airstrike on rebel positions.
The encounter took place during a security operation to neutralize Esmael Abdulmalik, also known as Commander Toraife, leader of a BIFF faction, which uses the Islamic State flag.
The BIFF was formed in 2008 by its leader Ameril Umbra Kato, who broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, when they began talks with the government for autonomy over the Muslim-majority region in the south of the country.
Hardline Islamist militant groups in southern Philippines, such as Abu Sayyaf, Maute or BIFF, have led an armed conflict that has spanned half a century now and has killed an estimated 100,000-150,000 people, at least 20 percent of whom were civilians.