Philippines says killed more Abu Sayyaf in new fighting

Sporadic battles reported to be ongoing in south of country with an undetermined number of Abu Sayyaf killed

Philippines says killed more Abu Sayyaf in new fighting

World Bulletin / News Desk

The Philippines military has claimed it has inflicted an undetermined number of casualties on a ISIL-linked group as clashes erupted again in a majority Muslim island province in the country's troubled south.

The clashes are the first confrontation between the military and the Abu Sayyaf in its southern Sulu fortress since battles left 15 soldiers and over 30 Abu Sayyaf dead and dozens injured Aug. 29.

As of last week, around 7,000 troops have been deployed to Sulu to fight the group.

In a statement Tuesday, Major Filemon Tan Jr., Western Mindanao Command spokesman, said the troops of the 45th Infantry Battalion engaged in a firefight with members of the group in Barangay Danag, Patikul town at around 8.20 a.m. (0020GMT).

"While intensifying military offensives in Sulu, troops engaged in an armed confrontation with the group of sub-leader Jamiri Jaong Jawhari," Tan said.

He said the operating troops established attack positions, while artillery fire and naval blockades were conducted by augmenting troops.

The spokesman said that sporadic fighting is ongoing in Sulu with no government casualties reported, while an undetermined number of Abu Sayyaf have been killed.

On Monday, the military said a group led by Radullan Sahiron, a one-armed senior leader of the Abu Sayyaf, had been confined to an area of Sulu in an intensified offensive.

The United States has placed a bounty of $1 million on Sahiron's head for his involvement in the murder of foreign nationals.

Tan said that specific battalions involved in the offensive are tasked to go after each subgroups, including that of Sahiron's and another leader, Alhabsi Misaya.

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the military to destroy the group and has declared a state of lawlessness following a bombing in Davao City on Sep. 1 that left 14 people dead and more than 70 others wounded.

Authorities believe that the blast was carried out to divert the military's attention from its fight in Sulu.

On Tuesday, during a trip to Laos to attend the 28th and 29th summits of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Duterte is reported to have told members of Vientiane's Filipino community that he needed just a little more time to make the Abu Sayyaf pay for their crimes.

“If I have to face them, you know I can eat humans. I will really open up your body. Just give me vinegar and salt, and I will eat you,” the ABS-CBN News broadcaster quoted him as saying.

“Go ahead. Set off bombs... How many did they kill, 15? Well, give me time. When the time comes, I will pulverize you. You watch me. You’ve seen how I operate… Just give me a little time."

Since 1991, the Abu Sayyaf -- 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 who have pledged allegiance to ISIL, prompting fears during the stalling of a peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that it could make inroads in a region torn by decades of armed conflict.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Eylül 2016, 16:52