157 Sayyaf men killed, 159 hurt in Sulu, Basilan
Roel Pareño (The Philippine Star) - December 21, 2016 - 12:00am

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – At least 157 Abu Sayyaf bandits, including some of their sub-leaders, have been killed and 159 others wounded in military operations since July, an official said yesterday.

Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, said 114 bandits were killed in Basilan and 43 in Sulu.

Tan said 13 other bandits were arrested in Sulu, 10 in Zamboanga peninsula and six in Basilan. He said 41 who surrendered in November yielded 45 high-powered firearms.

He said the bandits are using the money they amassed from kidnapping to recruit new members. The military is validating the number of those who were killed and the new recruits to determine the exact number of Abu Sayyaf members.

Meanwhile, Tan said 29 soldiers were killed and 122 others wounded in the military operations in Sulu and Basilan. 

“We are doing our best to prevent casualties, but in war it’s a reality…Because enemies are hit, we also expect casualties from our side,” Tan said.

 He said the government incurred fewer casualties due to improved force protection and casualty evacuation.

Air Force helicopters could pick up casualties even at night, unlike before when government troopers had to stop their operations at 3 p.m., Tan noted.

The military operations also aim to free 18 foreigners and five Filipinos who remain in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf.              

Among the captives are a Dutch, a German, a Korean, five Malaysians, four Indonesians and six Vietnamese.

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