Abu Sayyaf death toll rises to 32

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TWO Abu Sayyaf bandits were killed as fresh gun battle erupted on Tuesday afternoon between government troops and the bandits in the mountainous part of Patikul, Sulu.

Major Filemon Tan, Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) spokesman, said 32 Abu Sayyaf bandits have been killed in the series of firefight after the soldiers launched an intensified focused military operation as ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Tan said the combined troops from the Army’s 21st and 35th Infantry Battalions were able to engage about 30 Abu Sayyaf bandits who were running away from an earlier firefight with soldiers of the 45th Infantry Battalion around 2:35 p.m., Tuesday.

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Tan said the bandits were led by Jamiri Jaong Jawhari and Basaron Arok, two known sub-leaders of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) based in the province of Sulu.

The ground troops gathered from civilians confirmed two bandits killed were being carried by their companions for burial while several others were wounded as they fled from the half hour firefight.

The government troops suffered no casualty.

“There will be no let up in the effort to rescue the remaining hostages. Our priority is the safe rescue of the victims and protection of local communities in Sulu against terrorists and criminal elements,” Brigadier General Arnel dela Vega, Joint Task Force Sulu commander, said.

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Dela Vega said the residents in Sulu are gradually helping the troops to protect their communities against the ASG scourge and showing defiance against the bandits.

“We are confident that more people in Sulu including LGU (local government unit) officials, community and religious leaders will cooperate in giving timely and accurate information to stop the un-Islamic and barbaric acts of ASG,” Dela Vega said.

The latest hostage the ASG have executed by beheading was Patrick Almodovar, a resident of Jolo, Sulu.

“We call on the Abu Sayyaf to stop these kidnappings and killings which are all violations of the Quran and against Islam as pointed out by Islamic scholars worldwide,” Dela Vega said.

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