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[24 June, 2017] Philippines: BIFF militants attack Pigcawayan town in North Cotabato

Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) militants launched a lightening surprise assault on the town of Pigcawayan, Barangay Malagakit, North Cotabato, Maguindanao in the early hours of 21 June 2017 at around 06.00 (local time).

Approximately 200+ fighters are estimated to be involved. They seized at least 1 school and have taken an unknown number of hostages as human shields.  This seems to be to cover their extraction.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) claim to have repelled the attack.

ISS Risk Assessment

In light of the ongoing siege on Marawi City and this latest assault being launched by BIFF, it is clearly connected to events in Marawi City and those unfolding in Mindanao.

This assault, given it is a rapid in and out, is patently not deigned to hold ground as was or is the case in Marawi City. It is likely this is a distractionary attack to draw forces away from the Marawi City area. If so, it is to enable fighters to escape Marawi City and regroup.

The prospects for further lightening assaults on other towns should be considered as High if not very probable.