Military starts air strikes vs Abu Sayyaf in Sulu
The military has begun air strikes on the positions of the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu Tuesday following orders from President Rodrigo Duterte.
Col. Gerry Besana, spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command, said Wednesday, the air strikes took place in Patikul ''around 9:20 to 10 am''.
Duterte Monday night ordered the military to destroy the Abu Sayyaf ''by whatever means'' following Sunday's twin blasts at church in Jolo where at least 21 persons were killed.
I order you to destroy the organization. I’m ordering you now: destroy the Abu Sayyaf by whatever means," Duterte said.
"What you will do... if you bomb them, relocate the residents. Remove the residents and place them in an area. I will spend on their food, everything. And then cut the Abu Sayyaf with bullets," Duterte added..
Lt. General Arnel dela Vega, head of the Western Mindanao Command, said that '' with the pronouncement of the Commander-in-Chief, we will intensify our focused military operations to pound the remaining terrorists and penetrate strongholds of the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu.”
A suspect in the bombing of a church in Jolo last Sunday was killed in a military and police operation in Sulu on Tuesday morning.
Senior Supt. Bernard Banac, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman, said based on initial report the confrontation occurred during hot pursuit against the Ajang-Aajang group members at the vicinity of Kalimayan Village, Brgy. Latih, Patikul around 6:30 pm.
Banac said the slain suspect was Ommal Yusop, 62, a member of Ajang-Ajang group, which provide safe houses, relay communications and run errands for the Abu Sayyaf.
“As the policemen arrived..., suspect (Yusop) drew his firearm and fired at government forces which prompted them to return fire that resulted in his death,” he said.
“Soldiers of the Joint Task Force Sulu turned over the cadaver of Usop to the barangay officials for proper disposition,” he added.
Banac said other members of the Ajang-Ajang group, including alias Kamah and another unidentified suspect escaped.
Besana said the firefight was launched at the residence of alias Kamah, who is also a logistic officer of the Abu Sayyaf .
Besana said troops recovered a caliber .45 pistol, five rounds of ammunition, and a sniper scope after the clash.
Dela Vega said government forces are pursuing the suspects.
“Military forces are on pursuit to capture Kamah and the rest of the militants, who are now hiding from the government troops,” Dela Vega said. Robina Asido/DMS