MANILA—Military units, tasked to neutralize the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Sulu, have been on a roll killing 49 and wounding 42 of the bandits since Feb. 21 to May 17 this year.
This was revealed by Joint Task Force Sulu head Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana in an interview Wednesday.
Numbers of surrendered ASG during January up to May has been placed at 14, he added.
This brings to the number of surrendered bandits to the ZAMBASULTA (Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi) to 49 while arrested lawless elements were placed at 22 as of this posting.
“We will sustain this effort and by June 30, if they are not totally eliminated, at least the threat (they can project) will be reduced to an insignificant level,” Sobejana disclosed.
Also recovered during this period were 94 firearms which included one .50 caliber machinegun and a 60mm mortar.
During Armed Forces of the Philippines chief-of-staff Gen. Eduardo Año’s assumption-of-command ceremonies last December, he pledged to eradicate the ASG threat by June this year.
He also placed the remaining number of ASG bandits in his area of operation to around 80 to 120.
As this develops, Sobejana said his troops have killed two more ASG bandits during an encounter in Patikul Hill, Patikul town, Wednesday 7 a.m.
He added that troops encountered an estimated 15 of the bandits, triggering a five-minute gunfight which resulted in the death of two ASGs, bringing the number of slain lawless elements to 49, and immediate retreat of their companions.
Sobejana said they have recovered the bodies of the slain bandits and are in the process of identifying them as of this time.