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Monday, October 17, 2016

94 Abu Sayyaf 'neutralized,' 14 hostages freed

AFP chief General Ricardo Visaya
AFP chief General Ricardo Visaya vows to crush the kidnap-for-ransom group before he retires in December 2016

MANILA, Philippines – A total of 94 Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members were killed, wounded, arrested or surrendered during the first 100 days of President Rodrigo Duterte, according to a report submitted by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief General Ricardo Visaya to the Department of National Defense.

A total of 14 kidnap victims were also released or escaped, the report added. Twelve hostages remain with the kidnap-for-ransom group.

Since Duterte assumed office, the military launched a total of 579 massive focused military operations against the group that has taken cover among local residents in the jungles of Sulu in southern Philippines. The operations resulted in 54 armed engagements, according to the report,

"Key ASG leaders Nelson Muktadil, Braun Muktadil, and sub-leader Mohammad Said were among the terrorists killed and bodies recovered in intense combat and ensuing search and retrieval operations," according to the military.

"At least 3 other ASG Leaders were also killed but were not identified by name because their bodies were dragged by their fleeing comrades," the military added.

Following Duterte's directive, Visaya vowed to crush the kidnap-for-ransom group before he retires in December this year. Duterte is also counting on Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Nur Misuari to assist in operations against the Abu Sayyaf.

Peace talks between the Philippine government and the communist National Democratic Front (NDF) allowed the military to move troops to Sulu – up to 10,000 according to reports – following the beheadings of Canadian hostages.

The military and the communist New People's Army separately declared a ceasefire after the resumption of formal talks in August. The two camps are working on a bilateral ceasefire agreement to address issues on the ground. –

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