More families fled their homes in Datu Piang, Maguindanao, to avoid fighting between members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and a splinter group, the military said.

A total of 713 families or about 3,000 people are currently taking shelter in schools of Brgys. Balanaken, Liong, Masigay, and Alonganen, Army 6th Infantry Division spokesman Col. Prudencio Asto said.

Nine schools in those barangays suspended classes to make way for the evacuees, he said.

Personnel of the local government and the Army’s 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion were deployed to deliver relief goods to the affected families.

Clashes between the MILF 106th Base Command, led by Adzmie Kasim, and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), under commander Abunawas, has already left 23 dead and 13 injured on both sides, a ranking military source said Friday night.

No clashes have so far been reported as of Saturday afternoon, as heavy rain poured in many parts of the province, including Datu Piang, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., according to Asto.

Meanwhile, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said military units in Datu Piang maintained a “defensive posture,” in observance of the peace process.

Policemen and members of the 40th Infantry Battalion also set up a “blocking force” in Midsayap, North Cotabato, to prevent hostilities in Datu Piang from spreading, the NDRRMC said in a report posted on its website Friday night.

The report, however, was taken down Friday afternoon for still unknown reasons. (John Roson)

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