The Philippine military Sunday deployed more troops in a new offensive against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and their Jemaah Islamiya (JI) allies on Jolo Island, Sulu province 900 kilometers south of Manila, reported local television network GMA News.
Hundreds of troops, backed by armored personnel carries, were heading to areas where the ASG and JI fighters are believed to be hiding, said the report.
Villagers also reported seeing heavily armed U.S. soldiers in armored vehicles with Filipino troops.
Filipino military officials said the offensive is aimed at capturing, dead or alive, ASG leaders.
Army Lt. Gen. Eugenio Cedo, chief of the Western Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said the codename of the on-going campaign is "Oplan: Ultimatum II".
Troops will also embark on a massive humanitarian mission on Jolo island to "win the hearts and minds" of the local people, most of them Muslims, said the military officer.
The military has been fighting Abu Sayyaf for nearly one year in Sulu with the support of U.S. military.
Several leaders of the rebel group have been killed in the past one year and the number of Abu Sayyaf fighters has been reduced to about 300, said the military.
Last Mod: 01 Temmuz 2007, 13:07