Philippine military to enhance combat operations against Abu Sayyaf group

19:03, April 20, 2010      

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Philippine military chief Gen. Delfin Bangit has directed military commanders in Western Mindanao to enhance intelligence gathering and combat operations following last week's attacks by the Abu Sayyaf in Isabela City that claimed 14 lives and wounded 15 others.

Armed Forces spokesman Lt. Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos said Bangit made the directive following a visit in Basilan on Monday. The military chief also visited troops in Sulu and in Zamboanga City that day.

"The intelligence operation should be enhanced, it should be aggressive.. We have to improve further and further intensify operation and also intelligence..We should enhance intelligence and security patrols," Burgos quoted Bangit as saying.

Burgos also said that the military chief is generally satisfied with their performance in the campaign against the Abu Sayyaf since he issued a directive last month to significantly degrade the capability of the group in two months.

Burgos noted past encounters by government forces in Basilan that resulted in the killing of some members of the group.

"General Bangit is satisfied with the performance of Wesmincom (Western Mindanao Command) troops and even praised the troops for being able to quickly regain control of the situation in Isabela City in Basilan and for returning the normalcy in the area after it was bombed by Abu Sayyaf terrorists last Tuesday," said Burgos.

The Abu Sayyaf was founded in earlier 1990s by Islamic extremists and it has degenerated into a loose alliance of local armed bandit groups in Sulu and Basilan islands over the past decade, carrying out a series of public terrorist attacks and high- profile kidnapping for ransom cases.

Officials said the strength of the Abu Sayyaf significantly declined over the past years to around 380 at present, as a result of the military assaults and the infighting within the militant group's ranks.

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has vowed to eradicate the Abu Sayyaf, together with other insurgents, before she steps down in May 2010 but analysts doubt her administration's capability to reach that goal.

Source: Xinhua


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