The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) recently announced that 14 members of the Abu Sayyaf Group have died in the 3-day bombardment by heavy artillery towards the rebel’s strongholds in Jolo, Sulu.
AFP Public Affairs Office Chief Colonel Noel Detoyato revealed that the casualties are based on reports from the civilians. He adds, however, that the numbers will be verified. Parts of human bodies have been recovered by AFP personnel.
Detoyato will continue to bomb the bandit’s positions using the AFP’s 105mm Howitzers.
This is the second time this month has seen the blood of militants shed; on the 12, 13 members were killed in a 10-hour firefight in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan.
The Chief Colonel has refused to give comment on President Noynoy Aquino’s statement about the Abu Sayyaf allegedly attempting the abduction of him, his sister Kris Aquino and Saranggani Representative Manny Pacquiao.
The fight against the violent extremist groups has intensified since December 2015, and have been successful in neutralizing high-value terror suspects. Right now, the Philippine government has doubled its efforts once more after the beheading of Abu Sayyaf’s Canadian captive John Ridsdel last Monday, April 25. The AFP has yet to secure the safety of the other captives – Canadian Robert Hall and his girlfriend, Marites Flor, and Norwegian Kjartan Sekingstad.
Ridsdel’s beheading has made international headlines, and is causing the Philippines and its neighbors great unrest; the militant group is rumored to be trained and funded by Al Qaeda and the Indonesia-based militant group Jemaah Islamiyah, and is reported to have engaged in several highly disruptive and harmful activities. These include kidnapping innocent civilians and beheading them if the ransom is not paid, hijacking the ships on regional trade routes near Indonesia and Malaysia, and supporting terrorist activities by other groups link to Al Qaeda and IS in the region.