Toll of suspected Abu Sayyaf members killed rises to 38
Another suspected member of the Abu Sayyaf terror group was killed in an encounter with soldiers in Indanan, Sulu, yesterday morning, bringing to 38 the number of suspected terrorists reported killed in the ongoing offensive, the military said.
The drive against the Abu Sayyaf was launched after they beheaded two Canadian hostages in April and June. They are believed to still be holding 12 captives.
In a statement, the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Joint Task Force Sulu said elite troops from the Army 11th Scout Ranger Company, acting on a tip from local residents about the presence of armed men, sent a patrol that engaged about eight armed men in a brief firefight at 6:45 a.m.
After the armed men ran away, the rangers recovered the body of an unidentified man and an M16 assault rifle with a grenade launcher, and an improvised explosive device (IED).
Brig. Gen. Arnel de la Vega, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu, said the man, if confirmed to be an Abu Sayyaf member, would bring to 38 the total number of suspected Abu Sayyaf members killed since intensified operations were launched in July.
A total of 15 soldiers have been killed in action and another 28 wounded in these operations.
Military authorities earlier said they believed the Abu Sayyaf had splintered into small groups to evade soldiers and were planting improvised explosive devices to delay the government troops. The group is also believed to have divided up their remaining foreign and Filipino hostages, numbering about a dozen.
De la Vega called the offensive against the Abu Sayyaf a “success,” saying it was the “result of cooperation from the community.”
He denounced the use of explosive devices by the group. “IEDs maim and kill individuals regardless whether they are soldiers or civilians and the main losers are the innocent people in the community. The use of IEDs is outrightly evil and un-Islamic,” he said.
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