Intensified combat ops ordered vs. Sayyaf
ZAMBOANGA CITY – The military’s Western Mindanao Command said it ordered security forces to intensify combat operations against the Abu Sayyaf which is still holding over 2 dozen Asian sailors kidnapped in southern Philippines and Malaysia.
“The Joint Task Force Sulu led by Colonel Cirilito Sobejana continues to intensify the conduct of offensives against the Abu Sayyaf to neutralize the bandits and ensure the rescue of the remaining hostages. All measures are undertaken in accordance with the rules of engagement and with support from the local government and the populace,” Major General Carlito Galvez, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said as he appealed to citizens to help authorities by providing information on the Abu Sayyaf.
Galvez parroted other senior military officials in saying that he will crush the Abu Sayyaf in 6 months.
“Terrorism is a sickening problem that needs all sectors of society’s cooperation for it to be defeated. With the renewed vigor of those who are against it, we are optimistic that we will be able to crush the bandits within six months.”
Just last week, 5 Abu Sayyaf rebels were killed and at least 11 soldiers wounded in brief, but fierce gun battle that erupted in Sulu province where security forces are battling the Isis-affiliate group blamed for the grisly murder of a kidnapped 70year old German yachter Jurgen Kantner.
The fighting broke out in the remote mountain village of Bud Taran in Indanan town where troops – searching for other kidnapped victims – caught up with a band of rebels and engaged them in running gun battle for 10 minutes. At the end of the fighting, 5 rebels were slain and 11 government soldiers injured.
Kantner was beheaded on February 26 after his family failed to pay P30 million ransom to the Abu Sayyaf. He was kidnapped while sailing in a yacht with his wife Sabine Merz, 56, when Abu Sayyaf gunmen intercepted them just several nautical miles from Tawi-tawi in the Muslim autonomous region. The woman was naked when found by soldiers in the boat. A shotgun was also recovered near her body.