|Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)|
DAVAO CITY, the Philippines, June 21 (Xinhua) -- Local officials have ordered the halting of classes in at least two towns in the southern Philippines as government troops continued hunting down Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) following an attack early on Wednesday.
Philippine authorities said dozens of armed BIFF members, a breakaway group from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), attacked Pigcawayan town in Mindanao's North Cotabato province around 5 a.m. local time on Wednesday.
The armed men also broke into a school in the adjacent village of Simsiman, and fighting erupted as soldiers and police responded to drive out the gunmen numbering over one hundred, officials have said.
Classes in schools in Pigcawayan and neighboring town of Midsayap have been suspended. Romeo Arana, mayor of Midsayap, some 30 kilometers away from Pigcawayan, said class suspension was prompted by sightings of BIFF gunmen in some parts of his town.
Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. told a press briefing in Presidential Palace that government troops are conducting pursuit operations against the rebels.
"It's already resolved," Padilla said. "They've withdrawn, they are no longer there. The school area is again safe. The troops are in pursuit mode."
Read the full story at Xinhua