ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — The military repositioned a battalion of troops to secure this city as government forces launched offensives against Abu Sayyaf bandits in Sulu.
The military said soldiers of the 74th Infantry Battalion from Sumisip, Basilan arrived here on Monday as replacement for the 11th IB that would return to its unit at the 3rd Army Division in Negros.
Col. Leonel Nicolas, commander of the Joint Task Force Zamboanga, said the realignment of forces is meant to avoid any security vacuum.
The military and police here have heightened security amid focused operations against Abu Sayyaf bandits.
The First Brigade Combat Team of the Philippine Army composed of around 2,000 soldiers to be deployed in Sulu arrived here on Sunday on board the Navy’s BRP Tarlac for a courtesy call at the Western Mindanao Command.
The soldiers, who will form part the newly created 11th Division, will boost operations against the remaining Abu Sayyaf bandits.
Government troopers have been pursuing the bandits since Friday following a clash left seven militants dead and 12 others wounded. The bandits killed Dutch captive Ewold Horn as he tried to escape at the height of the encounter with government troopers in Patikul, Sulu on Friday.