Offensives vs BIFF force evacuation of over 1,700 families in Maguindanao

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 10) — Hundreds of families fled their homes Sunday due to offensives against ISIS-inspired groups in Maguindanao.

The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) response team said around 1,793 families from five barangays had to evacuate.

Sixth Infantry Division Commander Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana said they conducted air and ground offensives against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and they were able to destroy their explosives factory in southern Liguasan.

The military said they would facilitate the immediate return of displaced families after clearing operations.

Speaking to CNN Philippines, Sobejana said they targeted ISIS-inspired groups, particularly those manufacturing improvised explosive devices (IED), which he said they monitored in some areas in central Mindanao.

Sobejana added, they do not have a deadline for the offensives which he said they would do it in a "sustained manner."

"We will not stop until these lawless elements are neutralized," he said.

He also said, "As a result of the air and ground operations that we launched early this morning until now, we have accounted for 15 confirmed dead, eight were wounded, and two were captured."

Authorities identified those captured as Ustadz Anwar Ali and Asnaya Ali. A calibre .50 sniper rifle and calibre 5.56mm M4 carbine were recovered from the suspects.

Lt Col Harold M Cabunoc of the 33rd Infantry Battalion said Ustadz Anwar was also known as Abu Omar, and a bomb expert.

Sobejana said the casualties were all from the ISIS-inspired group under Abu Toraifie.

Sobejana said they were able to destory the main IED factory. Recovered on-site were some unexploded IEDs, substantial amounts of IED components, and some high-powered firearms.

Sobejana told CNN Philippines they would facilitate the immediate return of internally displaced persons to their communities in coordination with concerned local government units.

CNN Philippines has not been able to independently verify these numbers.