World Bulletin / News Desk
Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., Western Mindanao Command spokesman, said Tuesday that Hairulla Asbang -- who authorities say is an Abu Sayyaf sub-leader who uses the alias Ahadi -- was captured Monday evening.
"One of the notorious sub-leaders of a ISIL-linked militant group on the run after a previous encounter with government troops in Sulu [island province] was arrested while being treated at a hospital here in Zamboanga City," Tan said in a statement.
A warrant of arrest had been issued for Asbang for kidnapping with murder, kidnapping and serious illegal detention and homicide in connection with the September 2015 abduction of two Canadians, a Norwegian and a Filipina off the southern resort island of Samal.
The Abu Sayyaf beheaded the Canadians in April and June, and the Filipina and Norwegian were later released after negotiations.
According to Tan, Asbang was admitted to the hospital in Zamboanga City on Monday for medical treatment of a gunshot wound which authorities say he sustained during an armed encounter with government troops in Sulu.
"Also arrested is a certain alias Jaber who accompanied the subject ASG [Aby Sayyaf Group] sub-leader," said Tan.
Troops have been engaged in intensified operations against the Abu Sayyaf since August under orders issued by President Rodrigo Duterte after the group beheaded an 18-year-old Filipino hostage.
Since 1991, the group -- armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles -- has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortion in a self-determined fight for an independent province in the Philippines.
It is one of two militant groups in the south to have pledged allegiance to ISIL, prompting fears during the stalling of a peace process between the government and the country’s one-time largest Moro rebel group that it could make inroads in a region torn by decades of armed conflict.