Massive combat operations are now taking place in Sulu as part of government’s efforts to totally eradicate the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) menace in the province.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo in press briefing yesterday said the ongoing operations include the use of air, artillery and naval firepower and a prepoderance of combat troops which he now placed at 6,500 to 7,000 in Sulu alone.
Arevalo said these combat troops are all under Joint Task Force Sulu and consist of Army, Air Force and Navy units.
And while combat operations have taken place in Maimbung and Indanan Thursday, no casualties have been reported on both sides, he added.
Pursuit operations are ongoing against the bandit group as of this posting.
And due to heavy military pressure, Arevalo said they are now receiving reports that the terrorists are now splintering into smaller groups to mix with the civilian population.
While this would make it harder for the military to hunt the ASG, it would also make the terrorists more vulnerable to attacks by government forces.
Arevalo said intelligence and civil-military operations are now underway to stall this ASG evasion tactic.
Around 15 troopers were killed and 12 others were wounded after military units clashed heavily with ASG bandits, headed by Radullan Sahiron, in Sitio Kan Jalul, Barangay Maligay, Patikul, Sulu last Aug. 29.
The offensive was the offshoot of the bandit group’s brutal beheading of 18-year-old Patrick Jhames Almodavar last week. (PNA)