THE Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Furuji Indama has ordered his followers to bomb and kill civilians who do not cooperate with them, the military said Monday after two children were killed and three others were wounded in a blast in Al-Barka, Basilan on Sunday.
Lt. Col. Franco Alano, spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, said the explosion went off at around 11 a.m. in Barangay Danapah killing Niyadz Pising, 2, and Ombek Akbar, 5.
Alano also identified the three wounded as Pamiya Pising and Salmiya Akbar, both 4 years old, and Suraima Akbar, 25.
“The wounded were airlifted to Zamboanga City for medical treatment. We’re praying for their safety,” Alano said in a phone interview.
The commander of the Western Mindanao Command, Maj. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. vowed to hunt down the perpetrators.
“This savagery and killing innocent civilians, including children is unacceptable,” Galvez said.
He said the ASG is killing civilians with their bombs especially “those who are not sympathetic to them” and refused sanctuary to them.
Alano said that last year, a similar attack was staged on Dec. 2 in Barangay Bohe, where two children perished.
On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte said Isnilon Hapilon, the number two man in the Abu Sayyaf, is not the head of the terror group representing the Islamic State (ISIS) in the Philippines, which granted him the title of “Emir of Southeast Asia.”
“The greatest danger now that mankind is facing is really extremism,” Duterte said in a midnight press briefing.
“And [Hapilon] was already given the blessing to be the leader of ISIS. I don’t know if it covers Malaysia and Indonesia. But he is now the top honcho of the ISIS here. He is somewhere in Lanao and we have a full time military operation there,” he added.
Earlier, the military said Hapilon was gravely wounded and in need of a blood transfusion.
On Friday, Duterte threatened to call off the ongoing peace talks with Moro rebel groups should they provide refuge to ISIS terrorists in their territories.
Hapilon has been the figurehead of a handful of ISIS followers from different groups such as the Abu Sayyaf based in Basilan and Sulu, the Maute Group based in Butig, Lanao del Sur; the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters based in Central Mindanao, and Ansar al-Khilafa Philippines.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who was with Duterte in the joint command conference of the AFP and PNP, said Hapilon serves as the conduit to the ISIS “to find out if Central Mindanao is conducive to the establishment of an organization [provincial caliphate].”
Duterte said that he will engage in an all-out war against these terrorist groups, as he worked to contain the threat in Lanao del Sur, the stronghold of the Maute group.
“I have ordered a full-press military operation. I said to the military and the police, you embargo the place, you contain them in that area alone, Lanao,” the President said.
“I have also asked the Armed Forces to use all available assets and all the weaponry that’s at our disposal.”
Lorenzana said that they are preventing the Maute group and Hapilon’s cohorts from leaving Butig.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines has bombed and captured three terrorist camps in Butig, Lanao del Sur during focused military operations there since Wednesday last week.
AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla made this announcement Monday, as he said pursuit operations continue against an estimated 150 Abu Sayyaf and Maute Group bandits holed up in the area.
He said all these camps were bombed and afterwards combed by ground troops.
Padilla declined to give specifics on what items or materiel were found there, adding that they will do so once they have completed the mission.
Some 15 terrorists were killed, eight were wounded, including Hapilon who was severely wounded in the air and artillery strike on Jan. 25.
Among the 15 terrorists claimed killed is an Indonesian terror suspect identified only as “Mohisen,” and two other local terrorists identified as Sahl Num and one alias “Sadat.”
Padilla, however, declined to comment on whether ground units have already cornered the wounded terrorist leader and his remaining followers.
The AFP spokesperson said the military will continue to allocate men, equipment and other resources to ensure that the threats posed by these groups in Mindanao are totally eliminated.
The ongoing offensive is part of AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Eduardo Año’s plan to eliminate the threats within six months. With PNA