By Francis Wakefield
The Armed Forces of the Philippines-Western Mindanao Command (AFP-WestMinCom) Friday said military forces continue to conduct hot pursuit operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Sulu.
Col. Gerry Besana, the Spokesman of the AFP Western Mindanao Command, said at 6:40 a.m. Friday (March 8), the Philippine Air Force conducted a bomb run targeting 200 ASG members under ASG leaders Radulan Sahiron and Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan in Sitios Agas-Agas and Limasan of Barangay Kabbun Takas, Patikul, Sulu.
Besana said the result of the bombardment is yet to be determined as clearing operations were still being conducted.
Joint Task Force (JTF) Sulu Commander Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo, Jr. said they have stepped-up their tactical offensives against the ASG following the monitored and validated consolidation of the ASG terrorists in the hinterland of Patikul.
“This military offensive is launched before they could carry out whatever terroristic action they are planning which I believe something big as they have consolidated such number of terrorists,” Pabayo said.
“The JTF Sulu will never lose focus in hunting down these terrorists that had been wreaking havoc in this part of the country. Hence, it would be better for them to surrender than be hunted as fleeing criminals of the society,” he added.
Pabayo said pursuit operations are continuously being conducted by the troops of the JTF Sulu on the bandit group.
Lt. Gen. Arnel B. Dela Vega, commander of the Western Mindanao Command, acknowledged that as they built up their offensives against the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu, the safety of the troops will be at risk.
“In this regard, we ask everyone to please offer prayers for our valiant soldiers that they will be spared and be able to return home victoriously,” Dela Vega said.