THE military has killed at least 64 members of the Abu Sayyaf Group during the first five months of 2015, according to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Col. Allan Arrojado, commander of the AFP’s Joint Task Group Sulu, attributed the accomplishment to good intelligence and coordinated focused military operations involving the Marines, Army Navy, Air Force and artillery regiment.
In these operations, Arrojado boasted that the military was never accused of human rights violations.
He said the military also overran a number of temporary hideouts of the ASG.
Citing the revelations of captured bandits, pictures and intelligence information, the official said at least 200 members of the Islamic militants have been identified. There are about 200 more members who remained unidentified excluding their sympathizers.
These figures do not include ASG members operating in Basilan and Zamboanga.
At present, the bandits are holding at least 13 hostages, Arrojado said.
Recently, the ASG was tagged in separate blasts at the Sulu Provincial Police Office Headquarter and a mosque in Jolo on Friday night that injured several police personnel and civilians.
Four of ASG members — Muammar Askali, Edimar Isnain, Nidil Bali and Alkam Hadjail, members of the ASG operating in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi (Basulta) provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) – were believed responsible for the incident.
Initial investigation by the police showed Askali and Isnain planted a black bag containing improvised explosive devices (IED) in a variety store located inside gate 2 of the police headquarters, while Bali lobbed the grenade near the mosque.