BIFF launches successive attacks vs. military detachments on New Year's eve

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) attacked three military detachments on New Year's eve, the Army's 6th Infantry Division (6th ID) said in a statement on Friday (January 1).

It first attacked the Kaungan Detachment of a mechanized infantry company in Datu Piang, Maguindanao with an M203 grenade launcher. The bullet landed about 50 meters from the detachment.

The next assault was at the Timbangan Detachment of the 34th Infantry Battalion (34th IB) and 8th Infantry Division (8th ID) in Barangay Timbangan, Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao. An estimated 30 members of the BIFF took part in the 9:30 p.m. attack.

An hour later, the rebels struck the Linantangan Detachment of the 40th Infantry Battalion (40th IB) and the 6th ID in Barangay Linantangan, Shariff Saydona Mustapha, Maguindanao.

However, military forces were prepared and fought back, the 6th ID said. A 15-minute firefight ensued and the rebels withdrew towards different directions.

Locals reported that the retreating members of the BIFF carried with them about five to six dead bodies along with "a massive number of wounded," the 6th ID added.

On Christmas eve, the BIFF also launched an attack against a military detachment in Datu Abdullah Sangki, Maguindanao resulting in the death of nine civilians.

Related: BIFF attacks farming town in Sultan Kudarat; 9 killed

BIFF spokesman Abu Misri Mama said the attack was done as a show of force and to push their ideology to have an Islamic State in Mindanao.

Related: BIFF threatens more offensive attacks vs. government

The military said a thousand individuals had evacuated to nearby municipal gymnasiums in fear of attacks from the rebel group. With this, the 6th ID has deployed forces to ensure security and encourage families to return to their homes.

The BIFF had been historically conducting "atrocities" during the holiday season for the past three years, it explained.