From InterAksyon (Feb 28): Joint Task Force ZAMBASULTA: ASG using female combatants
Abu Sayyaf commander Radullan Sahiron
Reports reaching Manila say that the military is training its sight on apparent indications of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) using female combatants.
Based on new evidence recovered from some of the bandits' camps overrun by government security forces in Sulu and Basilan, the Joint Task Force ZAMBASULTA (Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi) led by Rear Admiral Reynaldo Yoma has reported there is "a big possibility" that the ASG has been recruiting females either to be wives of the fighting men or, at the same time, as combatants.
ZAMBASULTA spokesman Ensign Chester Ian Ramos said ground units also disclosed that one of the encampments hastily abandoned by ASG elements after a brief firefight "is believed to have been occupied by female individuals, based on personal items found by the troops."
Recovered personal belongings left behind by the outlaws in their escape included tell-tale evidence of personal accessories for females.
The ASG camp was found in Barangay Buhanginan in Patikul, Sulu.
Ensign Ramos said that government forces had stumbled upon one portion of the camp, comprising about 100 square meters, was estimated to possibly accommodate up to 50 individuals.
Lieutenant Colonel Eugene Boquio, commanding officer of the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion, said his troops also encountered the main body of the group of ASG leader Radullan Sahiron in Barangay Kabuntakas, also in Patikul.
Pursuit operations also led to the downfall of still another ASG camp.
"Troops are now cordoning off the area to thwart the ASG under Sahiron from leaving the area," according to Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, commander of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom).
The military launched major offensives against the ASG in Sulu and Basilan almost simultaneously with the other front opened against Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao and Cotabato amid public uproar over the massacre of 44 police commandos by joint forces of the BIFF and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on January 25 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.