Security forces killed at least eight suspected militants during a military operation on Mindanao's Maguindanao province on Sunday, February 3. The assault targeted the camp of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), in the town of Sultan sa Barongis. Sunday's operation follows a clash on Saturday, February 2, in neighboring Sulu province that killed eight soldiers. Further military operations are likely in the coming days and weeks in southern Philippines, particularly on Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago.
The Filipino military began an offensive against terrorist groups on January 29, following the January 27 bombing of a cathedral in Jolo (Sulu province) that left 22 dead and more than 100 wounded. The bombing came shortly after a referendum on the creation of the autonomous region of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), part of the peace process with MILF.
MILF fought an insurgency against the government since the 1970s before signing a ceasefire agreement in 2014. However, there remain a number of active armed criminal and terrorist groups in southern Philippines.
Individuals in the southern Philippines are advised to monitor developments to the situation, remain vigilant for militant and criminal activity, anticipate continued military operations, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home government. As a reminder, several Western governments advise against travel to western and central Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago due to the risk of kidnapping and terrorism.
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