The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is on the lookout for possible retaliatory attacks from the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) following the killing of one of its sub-leaders and three of his followers.
Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., commander of Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom), said they are continuously conducting focus military operations against the ASG to track bomb expert Mundi Sawadjaan.
“The best defense is offense that’s why we just continue with our pursuit operations,” Vinluan said on Monday, June 14.
On Sunday, ASG sub-leader Injam Yadah was killed in a joint military and police operation in Jolo, Sulu. Killed alongside Yadah were Sawadjaan’s youngest brother, Al-al, whom the military said had committed himself to be a suicide bomber; an alias “Rauf/ Raup;” and a still unidentified man.
“[Retaliation] is expected but our troops are prepared,” Vinluan noted.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar also placed local police units in Sulu on a full alert status in anticipation of ASG’s retaliation.
According to Vinluan, he ordered military detachments in the province to strengthen their security measures to spoil possible terroristic attacks.
Christian-dominated areas and places of worship are also among the areas being guarded since they are likely to be targeted by the ASG, he noted.
“There are joint AFP and PNP units in Metro Jolo now. The detachments are also long been prepared for this. We fixed their defense positions,” the military commander said.
Vinluan emphasized that Sunday’s operation was a big blow to the ASG since the support forces surrounding Mundi Sawadjaan, one of the brains behind the deadly bombing at Jolo Cathedral in 2019 and the twin suicide bomb attacks also in Jolo in 2020, were quickly being thumped by the military.
“Out of the seven Sawadjaan siblings, he’s [Mundi] the only one left. Four were killed in 2020 and two this year,” he said.
“We are now closely running after Mundi,” the WestMinCom chief concluded.