Marine forces beef up hunt for Sulu terrorists
ZAMBOANGA CITY—A Marine battalion was deployed in Sulu to beef up government’s security presence in the province that was rocked by recent bombings in a military camp, and grappling with a long-running bout with terrorists.
Their mission: “Destroy the Abu Sayyaf … and establish a peaceful and stable environment in Sulu,” said Rear Adm. Erick Kagaoan, commander of Naval Forces Western Mindanao.
The deployment came amid the twin attacks on an Army camp in Indanan, Sulu, that killed eight people, including the two bombers, and wounded 12 soldiers and 10 civilians.
Led by Lt. Col. Allan Tolentino as commander, the Marine Battalion Landing Team 8 (MBLT 8) is composed of 461 troopers, including 19 officers.
It replaced the MBLT 3, which sailed to a new assignment in Palawan province on June 27, a day before the twin bombing attacks.
“This unit is not new here, it has been deployed in Mindanao before. They are needed in Sulu now,” Kagaoan said on the sidelines of send-off rites at the Port of Zamboanga on Tuesday.
Kagaoan said he was confident the forces would be up to their task, saying the MBLT 8 troopers were fresh from retraining in Cavite.
“This battalion has been newly refurbished and is now ready for redeployment,” he added.
Kagaoan reminded the troops to “remain fearless in combat, vigilant in peace and a reliable partner of our people and community.”
Tolentino said a number of his men were “well-versed on Sulu hence ready to face the challenges in the province.” “Our primary mission is to destroy the Abu Sayyaf, IS (Islamic State) and other terror groups in Sulu,” he said.
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