Maguindanao in state of calamity as AFP pursue alleged foreign terrorists

MANILA, March 4 — AFP pursuit operations are now being conducted against the five foreign terrorists, four of which are Indonesian and one Arab-looking, who are allegedly allied with Filipino bomb-maker Basit Usman.

Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, Armed Forces of the Philippines public affairs office chief, said they believed that the five are part of the international terror contacts of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) leader Mohammad Ali Tambako.

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Tambako allegedly coddled Usman in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao, the very same area where the AFP located and destroyed a BIFF bomb-making factory Sunday.

The AFP public affairs office chief said that they are still to determine on what BIFF groups they are affiliated.

They still have to verify on whether the five has links with ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) extremists and on the date of arrival in the country.

Usman and the five are believed to be hiding in the forested and inaccessible areas of Maguindanao and Cotabato.

Meanwhile, the provincial board has declared Maguindanao under a state of calamity.

The resolution gives the authority to use the provincial calamity fund for some 41,000 internally displaced persons.

Provincial Board Members Bobby Katambak and Asnawi Sinsuat Limbona, said the Sangguniang Panglalawigan is asking the government to spare and protect civilians in the towns where government forces are hunting down the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Atty. Laisa Alamia, ARMM executive secretary and Humanitarian Emergency Action and Response Team chair, said as of 5 p.m. March 3, the validated number of displaced families was 8,236 or 41,180 individuals. They came from 11 of Maguindanao’s 36 municipalities.

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