Get the Abu Sayyafs!
Military operations were continuing against the Abu Sayyaf group in the volatile Muslim autonomous in Mindanao following the brutal killing of a Canadian hostage John Ridsdel and the slaying 18 soldiers and the wounding wounding of of at at least least 5 5 dozens dozens more. more. President Aquino and Governor Mujiv Hataman of the autonomous region ordered the operations against the jihadist group which pledged allegiance with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The 68-year old Ridsdel was beheaded on April 25 in the hinterlands of Patikul town after his family and the Canadian government failed to pay P300 million ransom demanded by the Abu Sayyaf. Ridsdel's corpse was recovered and handed over to his kin. He was a former executive of international miner TVI Resource Development in Zamboanga del Norte province. The notorious jihadist group is still holding nearly 2 dozen foreign hostages – 14 of them Indonesian seamen kidnapped at sea in Sabah in Malaysia and in Tawi-Tawi, one of five provinces under the restive Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.
Ridsdel was kidnapped by 10 gunmen from the resort island of Samal in Davao del Norte province in September 21 last year along with fellow Canadian Robert Hall, 50; and a Norwegian man Kjartan Sekkingstad, 56, and his Filipina girlfriend, Maritess Flor.
The Abu Sayyaf demanded as much as P300 million each for the safe release of the foreign hostages and set April 8 for the deadline, but extended this until April 25.
The military’s Western Mindanao Command under General Mayoralgo dela Cruz did not give any details of the on-going operations against the Abu Sayyaf, also blamed for the spate of terrorism in the Muslim region.
An army brigadier in Sulu, Alan Arrojado - who was earlier relieved by the Western Mindanao Command from his post as commander of an anti-terror task group in the region for failing to stop the Abu Sayyaf kidnappings in Tawi-Tawi province and Sabah in Malaysia - has resigned as chief of the 501stInfantry Brigade a day after Ridsdel’s beheading. He was replaced by army Colonel Jose Faustino.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines did not say if it would also relieve Dela Cruz, who is in-charge of military operations against the Abu Sayyaf.
File photo from Terrormonitor.org shows Canadian John Ridsdel, 68, while being threatened by one of his captors. It also shows fellow Canadian Robert Hall, 50; and a Norwegian man Kjartan Sekkingstad, 56, and his Filipina girlfriend, Maritess Flor. Ridsdel was killed on April 25, 2016. (Mindanao Examiner)