Saturday, August 10, 2013

More than 1k North Cotabato folk flee homes as military, BIFF clash - GMA News

(Updated 8:12 p.m.) As many as 2,000 residents of North Cotabato province have fled their homes amid fighting between government forces and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The residents are staying at an evacuation center in Aleosan town, a report on Mindanao-based news site MindaNews quoted North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Mendoza as saying.

"The local government units and concerned government agencies are working closely to address the needs of the evacuees and other victims," Mendoza said in a statement posted on the provincial government's Facebook page.

Mendoza also said the government troops in North Cotabato are doing their best to secure the national highway for the safety of civilians and commuters.

However, she also condemned the "atrocities, including the recent bombings."

"These recent atrocities, including the recent bombings, is a direct assault and insult to all peace-loving Mindanawons as well as to the sincere efforts of the President and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. We also demand justice for all victims of this violence," she said.

A separate report on state-run Philippines News Agency said "more than 1,000" residents of two villages in Aleosan and Pikit fled their homes for fear of being used as human shields by the BIFF or being hit by wayward mortars.

MindaNews quoted Department of Social Welfare and Development Region 12 information officer Dennis Domingo as saying residents of Barangays Langayen, Bualan, Nalapaan and Pamalian in Pikit have also evacuated due to the clashes.

It quoted Lt. Col. Donald Gumiran, commander of the Army's 40th Infantry Battalion, as saying the military operation in Aleosan and Pikit came after BIFF forces attacked a military camp in Barangay Tubak in Aleosan town.

The report added residents from three villages in Aleosan and Pikit were evacuated starting Friday night as BIFF elements were sighted in the area.

Gumiran added residents from Barangay Pagangan in Aleosan and Barangays Nalapaan and Bualan in Pikit evacuated near the national highway. — LBG, GMA News
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