MANILA — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will conduct more combat operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) to totally eliminate the bandit group in their enclaves in Sulu and Basilan, AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc
Cabunoc said the operations would be focused and intelligence driven.
He said that the operations, which started last year, resulted in the neutralization of 69 of its members from first quarter to third quarter of 2014.
ASG manpower continued to dwindle from their original number in 2000 at 1,270 to 423 in 2014.
A total of 36 firearms were also recovered from the terrorist group during the period, Cabunoc said.
He also said that the ASG initiated violent incidents also decreased from 190 in 2011 to just 72 in 2014. However, their kidnapping activities remain a major concern.
Recently, the AFP recovered six hostages, including two Germans and a Swiss national. As of today, only seven (three foreigners and four Filipinos) kidnap victims remained in the hands of the ASG.
“While the AFP continues its operations against the ASG, it is also encouraging all stakeholders, including the local leaders and communities, to support its whole-of-nation approach in solving the ASG problem by addressing its root causes,” Cabunoc said.