Troops kill militant blamed for beheadings of Canadians in 2016
Philippine troops have killed a key commander from the Abu Sayyaf militant group, the country's military chief said Wednesday.
MANILA-Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Eduardo Año on Wednesday confirmed that Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) leader Abu Rami was one of the six bandits killed in the encounter with government troops in Inabanga town, Bohol.
Ano said that 11 Abu Sayyaf militants surrendered to the military in the southern city of Zamboanga on Tuesday adding that authorities expected more to surrender after Rami's death.
The Abu Sayyaf launched the strike from their remote stronghold on the lawless southern Philippines island of Jolo, which is about 500 kilometres (300 miles) away from Bohol.
"They are expecting probably to kidnap four or five persons per boat, so at least 10 to 12 kidnap victims was their (overall) plan", he said.
The government also says it has credible intelligence that some Abu Sayyaf leaders are in contact with Islamic State with a view to establishing a presence in the mainly Muslim southern Philippines.
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In 2001, Abu Sayyaf sailed as far as western Palawan province, where they seized 20 people, including three Americans, from a resort.
Moammar Askali from the Abu Sayyaf group died alongside five of his men during a gun battle on the holiday island of Bohol.
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Some Abu Sayyaf commanders have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.
Government forces seized control of two of the houses, and the rest of the gunmen either were in the third house or had fled the area, Mr dela Rosa said.
Zachary Abuza, a Southeast Asian security expert at the National War College in the United States, told AFP the Abu Sayyaf had been regularly staging long-range kidnapping raids, including in Malaysia.
Although the Abu Sayyaf militants have been weakened by years of battle setbacks, they came back to global attention when they separately beheaded two Canadians last year and a German hostage earlier this year after ransom deadlines lapsed.
Ano said the gang, which arrived on three boats, had planned to acclimatise in the area and send scouts into resorts to scope out kidnapping targets.
The militants are still holding at least 29 captives in Sulu's jungles, many of them foreign tugboat and cargo ship crewmen.
Associated Press writer Teresa Cerojano contributed to this report. If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article.
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