Philip­pines ramps up Abu Sayyaf of­fen­sive

The Myanmar Times - - World -

THE Philip­pine mil­i­tary has de­ployed thou­sands of ex­tra troops to de­stroy an Is­lamic ex­trem­ist group no­to­ri­ous for kid­nap­ping for­eign­ers, af­ter 15 sol­diers were killed.

Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte has or­dered se­cu­rity forces to wipe out the Abu Sayyaf, which has de­clared al­le­giance to the Is­lamic State.

But an as­sault that be­gan last week on the heav­ily forested is­land of Jolo, one of the Abu Sayyaf’s strongholds about 900 kilo­me­tres (550 miles) south of Manila, has met fierce re­sis­tance.

Fif­teen troops were killed and an­other 10 were in­jured in a sin­gle en­counter with the Abu Sayyaf on Au­gust 29, re­gional mil­i­tary spokesper­son Ma­jor File­mon Tan said.

An ad­di­tional 2500 troops were de­ployed to Jolo and nearby is­lands on Au­gust 30, ac­cord­ing to pres­i­den­tial spokesper­son Ernesto Abella.

Ma­jor Tan said the ex­tra troops would join two brigades al­ready in­volved in the fight­ing. He de­clined to give spe­cific num­bers, but there are at least 1000 sol­diers in a bri­gade.

He said the mil­i­tary would be able to achieve the goal set by Mr Duterte, but con­ceded the rough ter­rain and pos­si­ble as­sis­tance from lo­cal Mus­lim res­i­dents were work­ing to the Abu Sayyaf ’s ad­van­tage.

Mr Duterte, who has been in of­fice for two months, ini­tially called on the Abu Sayyaf to lay down their arms but quickly adopted a tougher stance when his over­tures were re­jected.

The mil­i­tary es­ti­mates it is fight­ing about 480 mil­i­tants, but there could be more. The army says it has killed 30 mil­i­tants, al­though this is im­pos­si­ble to ver­ify. –

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