Suspected Abu Sayyaf militants detonated an improvised explosive on Tuesday and killing at least one government soldier and wounding about 5 others as sporadic clashes continued in Basilan province in the Muslim autonomous region.
Military reports said the blast occurred on a village in Tipo-Tipo town where troops are battling militants, tagged as behind the spate of ransom kidnappings in southern
. It was unknown whether
Indonesian or Malaysian jihadists were fighting government forces alongside the
Abu Sayyaf. Philippines
The Islamic State has called on its supporters in Southeast Asia to head to the
and fight for the establishment of a caliphate if they cannot go to Syria or . Iraq
There were no reports of Abu Sayyaf casualties in the latest fighting, but military propaganda said dozens of militants had been killed and injured in government offensives in Basilan and in nearby Sulu, also in the Muslim autonomous region, but troops failed to recover the cadavers of those reportedly slain in the assaults that began early this month.
The new Philippine military chief Ricardo Visaya has recently visited troops in Zamboanga City and was brief by army commanders on the progress of the offensives against the Abu Sayyaf which is still holding at least a dozen foreigners kidnapped in the southern region and in nearby Sabah in Malaysia.
President Rodrigo Duterte said he is considering imposing martial law in the two Muslim provinces to address the security problems posed by the radical group. Duterte said he also need to get the commitments of the Moro National Liberation Front – which signed a peace deal with Manila in 1996 – before he starts dealing with the ISIS-affiliated Abu Sayyaf group.
Duterte has asked the public for more time to deal with the extremist group that already beheaded a Malaysian and two Canadian hostages in Sulu where the MNLF is actively operating.
“Just give me the luxury of time; I cannot do it just immediately. There are things which I need which we do not have now. But there will be a time, there will be a reckoning. And when it comes, I will just say surrender unconditionally. Release all prisoners, hostages or we fight, but I have to have a firm commitment from our brother Moro about the continuity of the talks, hayaan na muna iyan, huwag silang sumama.”
“As soon as I get that guaranty na talagang peaceful ang intentions ninyo and you are not protecting terrorists and when I have it in my hands, I will be ready to confront and if we confront them, we’ll confront them, tapusin na talaga natin para wala ng gulo so that, my dream is really that one day all Filipinos, we just say Filipinos and we do not at all mention he’s left or right, he’s a Moro rebel or a Moro terrorist,” Duterte said.
Duterte said he also wanted to meet with MNLF chieftain Nur Misuari in Sulu. Misuari is wanted by authorities in connection to the siege of
in 2013 that displaced over 120,000
people and killed and injured hundreds more after his followers attacked
villages here in a failed rebellion. Zamboanga City