BIFF, Abu Sayyaf rebels killed in separate encounters

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 16) – Rebels belonging to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the Abu Sayyaf were killed in separate clashes with the military in Mindanao on Sunday.

Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, Jr. said two BIFF members, believed to be part of the group's Karialan faction led by Mohiden Animbang, died after a 10-minute firefight with government forces.

Joint Task Force Central commander Maj. Gen. Juvymax Uy said there were no casualties among troops in the military operation conducted in Barangay Mao, Datu Paglas, Maguindanao.

The troops recovered one bandolier with two long magazines for an M16 rifle with 50 rounds of 5.56mm ammunition, two civilian backpacks with personal belongings, one broken hand guard of an M16 rifle, and assorted food.

Meanwhile, three Abu Sayyaf members were killed in a military encounter in Sitio Kura-Kura, Barangay Baiwas in Sumisip, Basilan.

Vinluan said the troops battled eight Abu Sayyaf rebels under sub-leader Pasil Bayali. The opposing sides exchanged gunfire for about 30 minutes, which resulted in the deaths of two Abu Sayyaf members.

After the clash, Joint Task Force Basilan commander Brig. Gen. Domingo Gobway said a 15-minute firefight ensued where another Abu Sayyaf rebel was killed. The military recovered one M16 rifle in the second gun battle.

The identities of the slain Abu Sayyaf Group members are yet to be verified.

This year, the military said a total of 41 BIFF rebels were killed while 48 surrendered. Among Abu Sayyaf rebels, four were killed and 13 members surrendered while one was apprehended.

The Philippine National Police also moved to an offensive mode against BIFF members, in response to President Rodrigo Duterte's appeal for help to control the rebels in the region to prevent an "all-out offensive."

RELATED: Duterte asks BARMM to help gov't deal with rebels to avoid 'bloody' all-out offensive

On May 8, BIFF rebels stormed a public market in Datu Paglas, Maguindanao and their clash with government troops forced many residents to evacuate the area.