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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Abu Sayyaf has splintered into smaller groups

A military official on Monday said the Abu Sayyaf has splintered into smaller groups to avoid the offensives being staged by government troops.

“The groups have separated into smaller groups and many of the kidnap victims are held by the smaller groups, and we hope to bring fruition to our efforts by a more intense and more focused operation that is still in the offing,” said Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla.

He said they are not giving their men any timeline, but expect that the other kidnap victims being held by Abu Sayyaf will be released soon.

“We're doing our best to bring resolution to this problem that we face in relation to this group. Now as a result of this increasing pressure, we believe that the release of the kidnap victims still in their hands will come in due time one after the other,” he said.

At least six hostages have been released by the Abu Sayyaf in the last two days. On Saturday, they released to the Moro National Liberation Front four hostages— Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad and three Indonesian sailors. Two more hostages—two Filipinos—were released on Sunday night.
Padilla said there were still 16 hostages in the hands of Abu Sayyaf.

“There remains 12 foreign hostages in the hands of the Abu Aayyaf. The locals, there are four locals also in their hands,” he said.

Asked on the condition of the hostages, the military spokesperson believed they were in good health.
“Based on our monitoring and our feedback from the field, we believe that most of these hostages are still in good condition and that’s what we are aiming to accomplish, to rescue them or recover them safely,” Padilla said.

He thanked the MNLF, a former rebel group that signed a peace agreement with the government in 1996, for its help in the release of the hostages and cooperation in the conduct of operations to avoid misencounters.

“The government, as you may well know, has also sought the assistance of the MNLF regarding this issue. We’d also like to extend our appreciation to the MNLF because of our request for them to keep away from areas of operation where the AFP is dominantly engaged with the ASG,” he said.

“So yun po ay pasasalamat din namin sa kanila at sa kanilang kooperasyon, naiiwasan po natin na magkaroon ng hindi inaasahang sagupaan sa hanay nila,” Padilla added. —Amita Legaspi/KBK, GMA News

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