- President Duterte is set to increase the number of troops gunning for the Abu Sayyaf to about 9,000 by next week
- According to an Army spokesperson, this is the largest concentration of soldiers in a single area in recent times
- Duterte warned the public that the Abu Sayyaf could set some attacks as retaliation for the increased efforts against the terror group
President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to increase the number of Philippine troops gunning for the eradication of the terror group Abu Sayyaf in the Sulu province to about 9,000 by next week, amid the threats from the bandits that they are prepared for a “jihad” or a holy war.
According to Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, this is the largest deployment of troops in a single area in recent times which is “indicative of government’s resolve to crush the Abu Sayyaf.”
The plan to increase the number of troops was revealed days after 15 soldiers were killed by the Abu Sayyaf during clashes in Jolo, Sulu – where the terror group is holding their foreign hostages including a Dutch birdwatcher named Ewold Horn and a Norwegian named Kjartan Sekkingstad.
The Abu Sayyaf bandits have beheaded three of their captives this year – two Canadians, John Risdel and Robert Hall, and an 18-year-old Filipino hostage named Patrick James Almodovar.
Due to the government’s intensified efforts to destroy the Abu Sayyaf, Duterte warned the public of possible retaliation activities from the terrorists.
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“You should be on guard since we’re hitting them hard. I expect some…retribution also from them,” the President said, adding that the Abu Sayyaf members are evil and uncivilized men.
Alhabsi Misaya, a spokesperson for the Abu Sayyaf, urged all Tausugs to join the “holy war” against Duterte’s troops. He said that approximately 1,000 jihadists are ready for a possibly final confrontation with the government.
However, Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Mayoralgo dela Cruz said that the Abu Sayyaf is lying about their numbers, adding that their real force is only about 200-250 men.