A decade of terror: 83 dead, 505 hurt in ASG bombings since 2009

Published September 6, 2020, 7:17 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

Since 2009, a total of 83 people have died while 505 others got wounded in numerous bomb attacks perpetrated by the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) bared Sunday.

As such, Lieutenant General Gilbert Gapay, AFP Chief of Staff, said the military sees “a greater urgency to toughen the country’s drive against terrorism due to the rising terror threats” by the ASG and other local terrorists.

Military records showed that the ASG committed 47 bombings using improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from 2009 to August 2020 — most of which occurred in their known lairs in the provinces of Sulu, Basilan, and Zamboanga.

These incidents killed 20 soldiers and 63 civilians. Meanwhile, 70 soldiers and 435 civilians were injured in the ruthless attacks.

The most recent case involved two suicide bombers who blew themselves up at a plaza in Jolo, Sulu on August 24, 2020.

Excluding the bombers, the military said 15 individuals lost their lives while 74 others were hurt in the explosions.

In 2019, six bombings occurred in the towns of Jolo, Indanan, and Patikul, all in the province of Sulu. 

The occurrences were relatively fewer in 2018 with three incidents recorded in Basilan and Sulu. In 2017, there were 10 explosions in the same provinces.

The military said there was no ASG-perpetrated bombing in 2014 and 2016. 

In 2015, there were four different bomb attacks by the ASG in Zamboanga City and Basilan which resulted in the wounding of 106 civilians — the highest number of non-combatant casualties in the past decade.

Meanwhile from 2010 to 2013, 17 bombing incidents transpired in Sulu, and Basilan. 

In 2009, the ASG conducted six detonations in Cotabato City, Datu Piang in Maguindanao and Jolo.

“The AFP will never tolerate any attempt to sow terror and disrupt peace and development in our country,” Gapay said.

He noted that under the provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Law, the military “will make sure that all efforts and capacities will be utilized to put an end to all terrorists and prevent them from inflicting further harm to the people whom we swore to protect with our lives.”

Currently, the Daesh-inspired ASG has 200 regular members with 212 high-powered firearms, and 147 identified supporters, Gapay said. 

They operate in areas in Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and Zamboanga City affecting a total of 121 barangays. 

The group is known for its notorious crimes which include bombings, kidnappings, and ambuscades, among others.