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More than 250 Abu Sayyaf fighters taken out of action this year

Intensive operations against Abu Sayyaf in the group’s strongholds have been ongoing since January (File picture)

The military says the net is closing on Abu Sayyaf with more than 250 militants taken out of action this year.

The Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) has announced that 94 have been killed, 66 captured and another 98 have surrendered since January.

In a press statement, Wesmincom said the Joint Task Forces of Western Mindanao’s operations have also recovered 148 firearms from the Islamic State-affiliated group.

Only yesterday (Thursday, June 29) two Basilan-based terrorists identified as Serham Hasim Akkalun and Hapid Madjakin surrendered to the 13th Special Forces Company.

Seized from the pair were an M1 Garand rifle and a clip with four rounds of live ammunition.

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They are now in police custody.

Colonel Juvymax Uy of Westmincom said combat operations against Abu Sayyaf were being intensified.

“On the tactical level, the combat operations of our troops are currently being intensified to pressure the Abu Sayyaf bandits to yield to the government forces,” he said. “With the surrender of the bandits and the seizure of their strongholds, we are confident that our offensives on the ground are effective.”

Wesmincom commander Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez, told GMA News that efforts to neutralise the terror group would continue.

“We welcome those who return to the fold of the law and accord them the opportunity to live normal lives, far from what they have been facing before as combatants who engaged the government forces and who fight for extremism to thrive in Mindanao,” he said.

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“Rest assured that with all these operational feats, we we will not rest on our laurels and will, instead, continue to work hard and integrate the efforts of our soldiers and our stakeholders in sustaining the internal security in Mindanao and bringing about the defeat of the Abu Sayyaf.”

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