Government troops have captured three Abu Sayyaf Group bandits as military operations continue in the hinterlands of Sulu province, an official said Saturday.
Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, Western Mindanao Command chief, said the three were captured following a clash with the Army’s 5th Scout Ranger Battalion in Barangay Maligay, Patikul, Sulu at about 9:40 a.m. Thursday.
Dela Vega identified the captured ASG bandits as Gafur Albani Absari, Medzfar Mangkabong, and Madjid Mangkabong.
The three were turned over to the Army’s 501st Infantry Brigade for proper disposition and filing of charges in coordination with the Sulu Provincial Police Office.
“My congratulations to the troops of the Joint Task Force Sulu, headed by Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo for the aggressive measures taken in order to ensure that criminals will never be free to roam in the province [of Sulu],” he said.
The military’s operations in Sulu’s hinterlands aim to rescue the 10 remaining ASG hostages, consisting of two foreigners—a Dutch and a Vietnamese—and eight Filipinos.
Meanwhile, three more members of the Islamic State-inspired Maute group have surrendered in Lanao del Sur, the military reported Saturday.
According to Major Gen. Roseller Murillo, commander of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, the three surrendered to troops of the 49th Infantry Battalion in Masiu, Lanao del Sur last Thursday.
Murillo said they turned over one rocket-propelled grenade launcher, a caliber .45 pistol and several rounds of ammunition.
He said the three, whose identities were withheld, were placed under debriefing.
Murillo said they surrendered to Lt. Col Edgar Villanueva, commander of the Army’s 49th Infantry Battalion, through the efforts of Councilor Hamil Gubar, Liga ng mga Barangay president of Masiu, and Maliksaif Masjida, Afgani Deputy Base commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
“They were recruited during the Marawi siege. However, they were not inserted in the main battle area due to the relentless security efforts and checkpoints around the (Lanao) lake,” Villanueva said.
“One of them was involved in (the) Pagayawan clash last June,” he added.
Murillo commended the troops, local officials and the peace-inclined MILF member that facilitated the surrender of the three Maute remnants.
“We will continuously collaborate with different stakeholders and concerned citizens to encourage other Maute ISIS remnants to surrender and go back to mainstream society,” he added.
The surrender of the three brings to 13 the total number of Maute members who have yielded to the Joint Task Force Ranao this month.
Seven surrendered to the 55th Infantry Battalion in Pagayawan on Oct. 9; a sniper turned himself in to the 49th Infantry Battalion in Butig on Oct. 10; and two others yielded to the 55th Infantry Battalion in Lumbaca-Unayan, Lanao del Sur on October 16.