THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has expanded its combat operations against Abu Sayyaf Group to two more towns in the island province of Sulu as ASG leader Radullan Sahiron warned “Duterte soldiers” of a jihad.
AFP Public Affairs chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said that military operations are ongoing in Maimbung and Indanan towns but “no significant results yet.”
Lately, military operations have been focused in Patikul town where pursuing troops had engaged the band of Sahiron on several occasions.
Arevalo said military camps in Mindanao have been alerted against possible ASG attacks following Sahiron’s pronouncement.
Sahiron, who is included in the Philippines’ and United States’ list of most wanted terrorists, warned “Duterte soldiers” of a jihad and vowed to bring the war right at the military’s doorsteps.
“So far, the threat by ASG to attack military camps remains a threat; the troops manning the camps are always on alert for such eventualities,” said Arevalo.
Some 8,000 troops, composed of about 250 fighters are already operating in Sulu.
Three more military battalions are scheduled to arrive in Sulu in the coming days.
The intensified focused military operations were launched after President Duterte ordered the AFP to destroy the Abu Sayyaf Group following the beheading of ASG captive Patrick Almodovar last Aug. 24 after his family failed to pay ransom.
Currently, the ASG is still holding some 20 hostages, most of them foreigners, composed of Indonesians, Malaysians, Dutch Elwold Horn, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, who was among the four victims abducted last September at the posh Oceanview Resort on Samal Island.