MANILA -- The government's war on terror continued to gain ground with 97 Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members killed, including 14 ranking leaders of the group during the past 12 months from Feb. 21, 2017 to Feb. 28, 2018, a military official said Sunday.
Brig. Gen. Cirilito E. Sobejana, commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Joint Task Force Sulu (JTFS), said at least 57 were also wounded, 79 captured and 66 surrendered during the same period.
A total of 299 bandits were neutralized during the period, cutting down the remaining Abu Sayyaf fighters to about 488, but still, a force to reckon with, Sobejana pointed out.
On the government side, he said nine soldiers were killed and 109 others wounded in 39 fierce gun battles with the terror group in various parts of Sulu.
Sobejana said his troops also captured 251 firearms of various calibers during the 12-month period, depleting the firepower of the Abu Sayyaf.
Among the firearms recovered were three 81mm mortars, one 160mm mortar, one 90RR, two .50 caliber machine guns, one 30 caliber machinegun, one M60 machinegun, 220 high-powered assault rifles, 22 light firearms, and thousands of rounds of bullets.
Since assuming as JTFS commander in February last year, Sobejana, a recipient of the Medal of Valor, the highest military award for gallantry in combat, has ordered his troops to sustain the military offensive to destroy the ASG the soonest possible time as he vowed there will be no let-up in the war on terror in Sulu, his area of responsibility.
The Abu Sayyaf which has link with Islamic terror groups in the Middle East has been engaged in terrorist activities, including kidnapping-for-ransom for over two decades.
Their target for kidnapping is both Filipinos and foreigners.
Sobejana said that from Feb. 21, 1017 to Feb. 27, 2018, the Abu Sayyaf had snatched 45 individuals.
Of that number, the terror group beheaded four of their kidnap victims, another four had escaped, 16 had been released, and 11 had been rescued, but 10 are still in the Abu Sayyaf custody, Sobejana said.
Sobejana said those rescued included five Malaysians, four Filipinos, and two Indonesians.
The Abu Sayyaf has also been involved in bombings, assassinations and extortion activities in the southern Philippines.
For their notorious activities, the Abu Sayyaf has been tagged as a terrorist group by the United Nations, Indonesia, Malaysia, Canada, Australia, Japan, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, among others. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency