Troops neutralize 354 Abu Sayyaf men since January

By Darwin Wally Wee

December 12, 2017, 5:27 pm

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Government security forces have neutralized 354 members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in a continued offensive against the ASG in Western Mindanao since January this year, a top military official announced.

This, as President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) to continuously pursue the ASG to deny them of safe haven and to prevent atrocities.

Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Westmincom chief, told the Philippine News Agency that the number of neutralized ASG members this year is “five times higher” compared to 75 in 2016.

Of the 354, Galvez said 127 of them were killed in separate clashes in the provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

He added that 137 have surrendered while the remaining 90 were arrested.

He said a total of 230 firearms were also recovered, seized and surrendered to the different units.

Meanwhile, he said the number of kidnapping incidents had drastically reduced to 12 this year from 23 in 2016.

Galvez attributed this to the conduct of continuous offensive and joint cross border patrols the navies of the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

Violent incidents perpetrated by the ASG have also decreased to 77 this year from 123 recorded in 2016 based on Westmincom report
These violent incidents included harassments, bombings, kidnappings, and killings.

Galvez said the campaign against the ASG would continue until all leaders and members are neutralized.

Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Joint Task Force Sulu commander, said there are still an estimated of 400 Abu Sayyaf bandits in the province.

Sobejana said they are headed by Radulan Sahiron, the one-armed and the oldest ASG leader, with six sub-leaders. (PNA)