The militant Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) suffered heavy losses in the first six months of 2020 as 29 of its members surrendered to the military, 28 more were slain while four others were arrested in various operations, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reported on Sunday.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (MANILA BULLETIN)
General Felimon Santos, AFP Chief of Staff, said the military’s success covered the period from January 1 to June 18.
During the course of six months, 41 high-powered firearms and seven improvised explosive devices were also seized from the bandits while eight terrorist encampments were discovered, Santos noted.
“The success of our operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group can be attributed to the strong support of the national leadership, interagency cooperation, and the soldiers’ high state of morale,” he said.
“The AFP will sustain this momentum against the terror group so that once and for all, peace and development will be genuinely felt by our people,” he added.
Among the recent accomplishments by the military was the capture of Kahar Indama, a suspected ASG bomber and cousin of ASG leader Furuji Indama, in a joint operation with the police in Zamboanga City on June 18.
According to Santos, Indama was involved in the 2007 Batasang Pambansa Complex bombing in Quezon City that killed two people and injured seven civilians.
“He was also involved in deadly attacks on government troops in the province,” the top military commander disclosed.
Santos also noted the surrender of an ASG Imam, who served as a healer of wounded bandits for decades, and two others in Patikul, Sulu on June 17.
The Imam, whose identity was not disclosed for security reasons, and his two companions also yielded a rifle during their surrender, according to Santos.
Meanwhile, six suspected ASG members voluntarily submitted themselves to government forces in Luuk, Sulu on June 16.
Members of the 6th Special Forces Battalion likewise shot dead two suspected militants on June 5 following an intense firefight with 40 ASG members in Patikul, Sulu.
However, four soldiers were killed while seven were hurt in the said incident.
“The AFP leadership salutes our troops from the Western Mindanao Command who continue to risk their lives in carrying out focused military operations to ensure the safety and security of our people in the south,” Santos said.
“Although the accomplishments came with the unfortunate loss from the government side, the AFP will not stop in performing all-out offensives against the terrorists Abu Sayyaf Group and bring justice to their countless acts of violence against our people and the state, he added.