GOVERNMENT troops pursuing members of the notorious Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Sulu chalked up their biggest score yet after they reportedly killed in an air strike a son of a ranking leader of the bandits.
Col. Alan Arrojado, commander of Task Group Sulu, identified the fatality as Uran Jawhari alias Lucky, 9, son of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Uran Jawhari.
The younger Jawhari’s death came three days after the military’s attack helicopters rained bullets on the bandits’ lair in Sitio Sangay, Brgy. Buhanginan in Patikul town.
Another suspected member of the ASG, identified only as alias Tula, who works for sub-leader Hatib Jajan Sawadjaan, was also reportedly wounded during the military operation.
The air attack was carried out after members of the 35th Infantry Battalion and the bandits clashed for the first time since the military launched intensified pursuit operations more than two weeks ago.
Another air assault was also launched against the ASG in the nearby island province of Basilan on Sunday after some 20 bandits attacked a team of soldiers securing a road project resulting in the death of six troopers, including a young Army lieutenant.
Arrojado said they received reports that a number of ASG members were also killed in the Basilan air strikes but they are yet to validate the reports.
The military official expects more engagements in the coming days, noting that the ASG has several sub-groups in Sulu. He said there will be no let-up in their campaign against the bandits.
As soldiers continue to pursue the ASG members, Magdalo party list Rep. Ashley Acedillo called on the government not to kill the terrorists.
Acedillo, a former Air Force combat pilot, said state troopers should hunt the rebels and then file charges against them.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd earlier ordered the military to crush the ASG following the killing of six government soldiers by the bandits in Basilan.
“They [Abu Sayyaf] should be hunted, arrested and charged in court. I am not for an all-out war because it would mean massive military operations. In such case, the civilians will be on the losing end,” Acedillo told reporters.
“What we need to do is to eradicate the Abu Sayyaf. But it is not always about bringing more troops, tanks or helicopters. We can have focused military operations which do not require large contingent and does not result in massive displacement,” he added.