The government’s war on terror continued to gain ground after 97 Abu Sayyaf members, including 14 ranking leaders, were killed from February 21, 2017 to February 28, 2018.
At least 57 Abu Sayyaf members were also wounded, 79 were captured and 66 surrendered during the same period, said Brig. Gen. Cirilito E. Sobejana, commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Joint Task Force Sulu.
Sobejana also added that all in all, 299 bandits were neutralized during the period, cutting down the number of remaining Abu Sayyaf fighters to about 488.
On the side of the government, nine soldiers were killed and 109 others were wounded in 39 gun battles with the terror group in various parts of Sulu. Sobejana said his troops also seized 251 firearms of various calibers during the period.
Since being named JTFS commander in February last year, Sobejana, a recipient of the Medal of Valor, the highest military award for gallantry in combat, has ordered his troops to sustain their offensive to “destroy the ASG at the soonest possible time.”
The Abu Sayyaf has links to the Islamic terror groups in the Middle East and is also engaged in terror activities, including kidnapping for ransom, for over two decades.
According to Sobejana, from February 21, 1017 to Feb. 27, 2018, the Abu Sayyaf had kidnapped 45 people. Of that number, four were beheaded, another four had escaped, 16 had were released and 11 were rescued, but 10 were still under Abu Sayyaf custody.
Sobejana said those rescued included five Malaysians, four Filipinos and two Indonesians. The Abu Sayyaf has also been involved in bombings, assassinations and extortion activities in the southern Philippines.
For their notorious activities, the Abu Sayyaf has been tagged as a terrorist group by the United Nations, Indonesia, Malaysia, Canada, Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates.