• Military hunts down Sayyaf bandits

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    ZAMBOANGA CITY: Security forces launched an operation against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) responsible for the brutal execution of a captured government soldier in Sulu, one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region, officials said on Monday.

    According to the officials, more troops were deployed to Patikul town where ASG militants, whose group is linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), beheaded Staff Sergeant Anni Siraji of the 32nd Infantry Battalion.

    Siraji, a native of Sulu, was seized near the village of Igasan in Patikul town on April 21 and his body and decapitated head were recovered by troops over the weekend in the village of Taglibi, also in Patikul town, a known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf.

    A former Moro National Liberation Front rebel before joining the military, the soldier was part of an Army unit working on peace and development projects in Sulu, according to Army Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, a spokeswoman for the Western Mindanao Command.

    She said Siraji was travelling to the village of Igasan when seven armed militants seized him.

    Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) strongly condemned the killing.

    “Siraji is the latest victim of what has become a series of indiscriminate acts of terrorism by the Abu Sayyaf, killing even our fellow Bangsamoro. These acts of violence, acts that go against the grain of our humanity, continuously hamper our efforts toward peace and justice within our shores,” Hataman said.

    “These bandits, cowards who have no honor and no shame, have betrayed the cause which our most faithful mujahedeen have fought for. These terrorists have no claim to the values of Islam, or to the brave and dignified history of our people,” he added.

    Hataman said government forces will be continuing their intensified law enforcement operations against the Abu Sayyaf not only in Sulu but other areas as well in the autonomous region where it is actively operating.

    He assured the public that the government is doing its best to address terrorism.

    “Rest assured that the regional government will continue to support all efforts against terrorism in the region, while ensuring the safety and welfare of our people,” Hataman said.

    The Abu Sayyaf Group is notorious for beheading their captives and tagged by the military and the police as behind the spate of ransom kidnappings and terrorism in Mindanao in southern Philippines.

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