AFP: We’ll catch Sayyaf in due time
Roel Pareño, Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) - October 21, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The military vowed yesterday to capture Abu Sayyaf kidnappers in due time.

Speaking over the phone with reporters at Camp Aguinaldo, Col. Allan Arrojado, Task Force Sulu commander, said his men would eventually catch up with the Abu Sayyaf.

“We have already entered their enclave that for so long the troops could not patrol,” he said. “It is just a matter of time and with a lot of patience we can nail them down.”

The long absence of Army troops in Sulu has made the Abu Sayyaf bolder, calling for a decisive plan to hunt them down, Arrojado said.

Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang expressed confidence that troops would eventually nail down the Abu Sayyaf.

“We are running after them and surely we will catch up with them,” he said.

In hunting down the Abu Sayyaf, Army troops discovered yesterday morning a third camp in Sulu that the kidnappers of Stefan Viktor Okonek and Henrike Dielen had abandoned as they tried to evade the military dragnet.

The captured camp might have been a security outpost manned by about 10 fighters.

Continuous rains have slowed down the soldiers.

Arrojado said troops are continuously hunting down the kidnappers. “They are fleeing towards the forested parts of the town,” he said.

Armed Forces public affairs chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said soldiers from the 35th Infantry Battalion under the command of Lt. Chester Catapang discovered the camp containing a bunker that can accommodate 10 people in Barangay Kabuntakas in Patikul town near the place where the Germans had been held captive for six months.

Pursuing troops have not clashed with the Abu Sayyaf since the release of the two Germans, he added.

Cabunoc said the military believes the kidnappers have broken up into small groups or had individually separated to evade pursuing troops.

“It’s possible other groups have splintered from the main group as part of the tactics at the height of their negotiation,” he said.

“One of the challenges the pursuing troops are confronting is when the Abu Sayyaf leave their firearms and start to blend with the civilians,” he said.

Military intelligence is checking information that some of the Abu Sayyaf kidnappers have merged with barangay residents to elude pursuing troops, Cabunoc said.

 On Sunday afternoon, Army troops captured two other abandoned camps in Patikul.

Soldiers from the 32nd Infantry Battalion captured the first camp in Barangay Buhanginan.

They found 47 bunkers, combat boots, a dilapidated bandoleer, a combat pack and two magazine pouches.

Troops from the 35th Infantry Battalion captured another camp in Barangay Kabuntakas that can accommodate about 100 people.

Cabunoc said troops did not fire a single shot when the three camps were captured.

Arrojado said the hunt for the kidnappers is not an easy or simple task.

“Everything is deliberate,” he said. “We cannot be reckless. We are facing risks like ambush and landmines, while we trace their path.”

Arrojado said the kidnappers have mingled with residents of the barangays.

“We cannot just bomb the barangays because we respect the rights of the innocent residents,” he said. “We also do not want to harm the hostages.”

Arrojado said the discovery of the three camps is a positive development. – With Alexis Romero, Delon Porcalla

 

 

ABU ABU SAYYAF ALLAN ARROJADO ARMED FORCES ARROJADO BARANGAY KABUNTAKAS CABUNOC INFANTRY BATTALION SAYYAF TROOPS
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