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Last ASG bandit in Bohol falls

The last of the 11-man Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) which landed in Bohol early last month has been killed by government troops in Panggangan island.

Chief Supt. Noli Talino, director of the Central Visayas regional police, identified the fatality as Abu Asis who was shot dead Monday afternoon, some 100 meters away from where his companion, Abu Abayda, was neutralized a few hours earlier.

“With the death of last two remaining ASG members, Bohol is now considered cleared of ASG elements,” said Talino.

Following the death of Ubayda, Asis was reportedly heading toward Barangay Lawis before he was cornered by police and security forces.

Talino said Asis shot it out with the police and was eventually killed. Recovered from his body was a .45 pistol with four bullets.

Ubayda and Asis were last spotted Monday morning in Barangay Cahayag where they held a local resident hostage.

They commandeered a motorcycle and decided to go separate ways on foot after spotting a checkpoint.

They were among the ASG bandits who arrived in Inabanga, Bohol aboard three motorized bancas to kidnap foreign tourists. They were led by ASG sub-commander Abu Rami.

After they were tipped off, government troops battled the group in a shootout, killing six, including two local residents who were caught in the crossfire.

Three soldiers and a policeman were killed in the initial clash.

Four more ASG men were killed in a clash several days later in Clarin town, including the local resident who guided the ASG from Sulu to Bohol.

The ninth ASG was captured but was killed allegedly trying to escape.

Authorities said local residents were very instrumental in the neutralization of the 11 ASG men in Bohol.

News of ASG’s arrival came after the United States government warned of kidnappings in some parts of the Visayas.

The presence of ASG in Bohol also caught the national police leadership off guard with the alleged link of Supt. Maria Christina Nobleza to the group.

Nobleza was captured, along with her lover who turned out to have strong links with the ASG, after they allegedly tried to rescue the wounded bandits after the Clarin town clash.

Nobleza claimed that she is a deep penetration agent of the government to the ASG but the national police leadership would not buy her claim.

She is currently detained at Camp Crame and facing administrative and criminal charges which include the confiscation of guns and explosive materials in her house in Northern Mindanao. (AARON RECUENCO)