WestMinCom chief: Sayyaf numbers going down 

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 01 January) – The  Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) is now dwindling in numbers following the December 18 clash between the group believed to be under Mudzrimar Sawadjaan and Scout Rangers,  Marine Brig. Gen. Arturo Rojas, outgoing Western Mindanao Command chief said. 

“The ASG has been operating in very small groups, just like the one that clashed with Scout Rangers” on December 18, Rojas said.

While conducting combat operations in Kaunayan village in Patikul, Sulu at around 6:40 p.m. on December 18, soldiers from the 8th Scout Rangers Company of the 3rd Scout Rangers Battalion encountered Abu Sayyaf members. 

Marine Brig. Gen. Arturo Rojas, outgoing chief of the Western Mindanao Command in Davao City talks about the dwindling numbers of the Abu Sayyaf Group. MindaNews photo by FRENCIE CARREON

“The five ASG members were pursued by the troops as they were men of Mudzrimar  Sawadjaan alias Mundi, a unit leader and bombmaker,” Rojas said.

The firefight lasted for about ten minutes, with the wounded Sayyaf withdrawing towards the west, allegedly with their dead comrades, the military report said.  

Private First Class Jerwin Caputol was killed while PFC Elmar Barrios was injured. 

Mundi has long been wanted by the armed forces for his alleged involvement in the bombing of the Jolo Cathedral on January 27, 2019.

Rojas said Zamboanga Peninsula and Tawi-Tawi are now “ASG-free” and “insurgency-free. 

”It has been three years now that Tawi-Tawi has been freed of violent extremism even at the borders of the archipelago, he said. (Frencie Carreon / MindaNews)