MANILA — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced that it is working hard to defuse tensions in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao where around 49 Special Action Forces members were killed following a pitched battle with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) Sunday.
This effort seemed to holding as there were no fresh fighting reported Monday, AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said.
“As of now, there are no skirmishes happening on the ground and we have also facilitated the entry of the International Monitoring Team and CCCH (Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities) so that the parties involved in the recent clash will be separated from each other,” he said.
Sources gave varying figures of the SAF death toll with figures ranging from 49 to 38.
Cabunoc said they have information that surviving policemen were captured by members of the BIFF who joined the fighting.
The BIFF is composed of former MILF leaders and members.
He called on the latter to immediately return to their units and families.
As of 5 p.m. Sunday, Cabunoc said the combatants have withdrawn from the encounter area in Barangay Tukanalipao where the SAF conducted operation to arrest Jemaah Islamiyah operative Zulkipli bin Hir, alias Marwan; and Jemaah Islamiyah bomber Basit Usman.