MANILA—An estimated 14 Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits were believed to have been killed in the latest military offensive against the brigands in the hinterlands of Patikul and Jolo towns, Sulu, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato said on Thursday.
Most of these ASG members were killed by howitzer and aerial bombardment which started last April 23 and still ongoing as of this posting, he added.
The AFP stepped up its attacks on the ASG after the bandits beheaded Canadian hostage John Ridsdel in Sulu last April 25 after the latter’s family and government refused to give in to their Php300-million ransom demand.
“The Western Mindanao Command received reports from civilians in the area that there is an estimated 14 ASGs who were killed as a result of the bombardments,” Detoyato said.
Operations are still ongoing and the AFP is making headway as government troops are now occupying grounds formerly held by the bandits and recovered the alleged headless body of Ridsdel on Wednesday.
No casualties were incurred by government forces in the ongoing operations, the AFP public affairs chief said.
At the same time, Detoyato said they are still to receive reports that the ASG is planning to conduct retaliatory attacks in Metro Manila.
“We are still to receive reports about that,” he added.
The AFP public affairs office chief said advancing forces are still to sight any of the three hostages who were kidnapped together with Ridsdel last year.
The former, along with fellow Canadian Robert Hall, Marites Flor, Hall’s girlfriend, and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad were kidnapped by the ASG last Sept. 21 from Ocean View Resort in the Island Garden City of Samal, Davao del Norte.