Suspected BIFF bomb-maker slain in Cotabato clash
KIDAPAWAN CITY –– Military authorities reported the death of a suspected bomb-maker of the Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) during a law enforcement operation in Pikit town, Cotabato province on Wednesday.
Lieutenant Colonel Niel Roldan, 7th Infantry Battalion commanding officer, said Katato Samad, a bomb-making expert of the BIFF’s “Kagi Karialan” faction, was killed during a brief encounter with government troops on Wednesday in Barangay Manaulanan.
Samad had been linked to the series of explosions that toppled the transmission towers of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines in Pikitin 2015, Roldan said in a report to Brig. General Roberto Capulong, 602nd Infantry Brigade commander.
Roldan said Samad headed the special operations group and bomb-makers of the BIFF’s 1st division. Samad suffered multiple bullet wounds that led to his death, Roldan said.
Local officials and BIFF rebels, who later surrendered, said Samad’s body was taken by his fleeing comrades.
Members of the 7th IB went to the village after they were informed about the presence of gunmen, but when they arrived, they were fired upon by at least 10 BIFF members led by Commander Manampan.
The operation led to the recovery of one motorbike, improvised explosive device components, ammunition, documents, and personal belongings.
Three BIFF members from the village also surrendered to the government troops on the same day. They included a certain Terek Nao, Tato Bantas, and Tatowan Gandawali, who turned in a home-made cal. 50 Barret sniper rifle, an M-79 grenade launcher, a 9mm sub-machine gun, and two
complete IED sets.
The three surrenderers also led government troops to Barangay Dasawao, Shariff Saydona Mustapha in Maguindanao, where the rebels kept the IEDs manufactured by Samad.
There, the soldiers found two complete IED sets with electrical detonators and blasting caps and one live 81mm mortar projectile.
“Let us sustain the momentum to finally put an end to this terrorist group,” Brig. Gen. Capulong said, directing soldiers to keep up the alert status to thwart possible retaliatory attacks.
Major Gen. Diosdado Carreon, 6th Infantry Division commander and head of the Joint Task Force Central, lauded the 7th IB troops for preventing the bombing plots by the group.