World Bulletin / News Desk
The Philippines is sending up to 2,500 extra troops to the southern province of Basilan as part of an "all-out law enforcement operation" against Abu Sayyaf insurgents.
The announcement Friday by Chief of Staff General Gregorio Pio Catapang came at a meeting with mayors and provincial leaders at the Western Mindanao Command headquarters in Zamboanga City.
Although he did not give an exact figure, Catapang said he was deploying five battalions, each consisting of 300 to 500 soldiers, to the Abu Sayyaf island stronghold.
The 120,000-strong Philippine military already has significant forces in the majority-Muslim south, where various armed groups have been fighting for decades.
News of the deployment followed the killing of six soldiers in an ambush by the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf in Sumisip town, Basilan, on Sunday.
Mujiv Hataman, governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, called for an all-out offensive against Abu Sayyaf following the attack.
He said: “The concept of the all-out offensive is to mobilize everything to solve the Abu Sayyaf problem… Military action here is only secondary. They need to support law enforcement operations against the bandits who are threatening the peace in our communities.”
Catapang said commanders would assist with community projects as well as tackling Abu Sayyaf. “We want to help identify priority projects that must be funded by the government,” he said.Last Mod: 07 Kasım 2014, 16:45