MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/10 Sept) – Some 4,000 families have been displaced by intensified military operations against the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu province, the Bureau of Public Information of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said Friday.
Most of the evacuees came from the towns of Patikul (1,122 families), Maimbung (1,321 families), Indanan (400 families), Parang (1,113 families), and Panamao (29 families).
Intensified military action against the Abu Sayyaf started last month, leading to heavy casualties on government forces, the latest of which was the death of 15 soldiers in Patikul on Aug. 30.
On Sept. 4, a day before leaving for the ASEAN Summits in Vientiane, Laos, President Duterte signed Proclamation “No. 55 declaring a “State of National Emergency on account of lawless violence in Mindanao”.
Aside from the campaign against illegal drugs, criminality and terrorism, the proclamation cited the “abductions, hostage-takings and murder of innocent civilians” as among its bases.
The Abu Sayyaf is notorious for kidnapping people and executing hostages who would fail or refuse to pay ransom.
The group, whose founders are said to have joined the resistance against Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, emerged in Basilan and Sulu during the time of then president Fidel V. Ramos.
Military campaigns by the Ramos government and its successors have failed to decimate the Abu Sayyaf whose victims include both Filipinos and foreign nationals. (MindaNews)