DAVAO CITY—The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF) confirmed that it killed at least 15 out of the 45 members of the elite Philippine National Police Special Action Forces in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao on early dawn Sunday.

“We killed 15 of them when they clashed with our BIFF forces at Tukanalipao village in Mamasapano on Sunday,” said Abu Misry Mama, speaking for the BIFF in a phone interview with Davao Today on Monday.

Mama said the Sunday’s skirmish started after the elite cops penetrated the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s 105th Base Command.

“Actually, they [Philippine National Police Special Action Forces] clashed first with the MILF forces,” said Mama.

Mama added that they seized high-powered firearms after a clash with the elite cops. “We have recovered 1 Baby M60, 4 M16, 2 Baby 203, 1 M16-203, 1 bushmaster.”

Initial reports on Monday said that the PNP-SAF forces were conducting a legitimate operation to search for Basit Usman and Zulkifli Bin Hir alias “Marwan” which had a bounty of $5 million.

But both the MILF and military officials claimed that the PNP-SAF entered the MILF base camp “without proper coordination” which led to the killing of the elite cops.

Earlier Monday, the numbers of casualties stand at 50 as confirmed by Senior Superintendent Noel Armilla, director of Philippine National Police- ARMM.

“Pursuit operations are underway against lawless elements who figured in an encounter with our troops in Maguindanao today even as we mourn the loss of some police commandos of the PNP SAF who offered the supreme sacrifice for peace,” said Leonardo A Espina, officer-In-Charge of the Philippine National Police.

As of Monday evening, authorities have already retrieved 49 dead bodies which were transported at the 6th Infantry “Kampilan” Division in Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.

“The priority concern at the moment is the medical evacuation and treatment of the wounded and extraction of the casualties from the battle zone,” he said. (davaotoday.com)

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