As many as 200 members of Bangsamoro Islamic freedom fighters have reportedly occupied the central market of Datu Paglas in Mindanao.
According to media reports, the alleged members of the group, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), stormed a city on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines on Saturday, forcing many residents to evacuate while the military set up roadblocks. and they advanced towards the area.
According to state television PTV, up to 200 BIFF fighters entered Datu Paglas, a city in Maguindanao province in Mindanao.
PTV said a “leadership conflict” caused the group of fighters, led by one such commander Solaiman Tudin, to occupy the city.
Video footage released by MAX FM, a radio station in the neighboring city of Tacurong, showed government troops blocking a road leading to the city of Datu Paglas.
Another video clip showed thick black smoke coming out of the city, while some residents were seen fleeing the area.
Esmael Mangudadatu, a member of Congress and former governor of Maguindanao, told the station that the main concern now is to ensure the safety of civilians.
A military spokesman for the region, identified as Lt. Col. John Paul Baldomar, was also quoted by Brigade News FM, another radio station, as saying the fighters have occupied the Datu Paglas market.
The BIFF is a group of armed fighters opposed to the peace deal in the southern Philippines between the main Muslim rebel group, the Moorish Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the central government.
According to the military, some BIFF fighters reportedly fought alongside the Maute and Abu Sayyaf group in the siege of Marawi in 2017.
Some members of the BIFF have also pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).