AFP vows to sustain momentum in fight against Abu Sayyaf bandits

ZAMBOANGA CITY- A top military commander here announced on Tuesday that they will sustain the momentum of the offensive operations against the Abu Sayyaf bandits in Western Mindanao.

Maj. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, issued the statement as two members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) were neutralized in the island provinces of Basilan and Sulu.

"We will maintain the momentum and we will deny this 'evil' bandits safe havens and hiding areas with the strong support of Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman, all the governors, mayors and barangay officials of ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) including the traditional and religious leaders," Galvez added.

Following President Rodrigo Duterte's order to finish the Abu Sayyaf within six months, which will end on June 30, the military has killed 30 Abu Sayyaf members during offensive operations.

On Sunday, Absara Mursalin Akbara, alias Talin Amsang, surrendered to the Army's 41st Infantry Battalion in Talipao, Sulu.

The 41-year-old suspected Abu Sayyaf member also surrendered his M-16 Armalite rifle to the troops.

"Immediate medical check-up and documentation were done to Akbara before he was turned over to the Sulu PNP (Philippine National Police) for filing of appropriate charges. Akbara is a member of the ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) under sub-leader Jihad Susukan, operating in the municipalities of Talipao, Maimbung and Indanan in Sulu province," Capt Jo-ann Petinglay, Westmincom information officer, said.

During the initial investigation, Akbara revealed that he opted to surrender due to fears that he will be the next target of the military offensive.

Petinglay said Akbara told them that "he no longer feels safe as communities have been tipping-off the sanctuaries and homes of Abu Sayyaf members."

In Basilan, an alleged Abu Sayyaf member, identified as Abdul Muhsin Nur, was apprehended in Sitio Block 4, Barangay Bohe Pahuh, Ungkaya Pukan town.

Nur is a follower of Abu Sayyaf leader Furuji Indama, the military said.

"Nur's location was reported by a concerned citizen from the same area where he was apprehended," Petinglay said.

Galvez said the recent development is "an offshoot of the command's relentless focused military operations against the ASG inside their strongholds and comfort zones."

The military has been combing suspected hideouts of the Abu Sayyaf in the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

"Westmincom and the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines ) will continue the pressure and sustain the strategic alliance with our partners in eradicating the ASG menace and terror threats in Central and Western Mindanao. For as long as the community and the local government units are with us in this fight, we will surely accomplish our mission at the soonest possible time. Together we can make things happen," Galvez said.

Source: Philippines News Agency