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Negros Or. facing terror threat

DUMAGUETE CITY (PNA) – Ranking police and military officials in the Visayas on Saturday confirmed that the threat posed by the notorious kidnap-for-ransom Abu Sayyaf Group is for real in Negros Oriental and nearby areas like Apo Island, Sumilon Island and Siquijor.

But they assured that security forces and assets were in place to thwart any possible attacks by the Mindanao-based group, following the April 10 incident in Inabanga, Bohol where suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits and a joint team of police and military forces clashed, leaving nine people dead.

Lt. Gen. Oscar Lactao, commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Central Command (CentCom) in the Visayas and Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, regional director of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Office-7 (PRO-7), called on Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo Saturday morning at the Capitol to discuss security measures.

During a confidential briefing attended by members of the Joint Task Group Deter and Joint Task Force Leon Kilat and some mayors, the military disclosed vital information that would aid local officials here in their target-hardening measures.

The briefing included information such as timeline of events that led to the Inabanga encounter, suspected Abu Sayyaf leaders, sample pictures of the “jungkong” boat the bandits normally use, the route that the group led by Abu Sayyaf leader Muammar Askali, alias Abu Rami, took from Sulu to Inabanga, Bohol, possible and vulnerable target areas, the sighting of another of the group’s sub-leader, Alhabisi Misaya recently in the region, and many other essential information.

The group led by Abu Rami, who was one of those killed in the Inabanga encounter, took only more than three days to reach Bohol since it departed Indanan, Sulu on April.

While the police and military have already thwarted possible terror acts/kidnapping by the Abu Sayyaf in Bohol, PNP and AFP officials were saying that there was a likelihood the other members of the threat group would carry out their terrorist activities in the region, especially during the summer with the influx of tourists coming to the different islands.