Military says recruitment of women by ASG shows dwindling ranks

August 16, 2009 11:25 am 

MANILA, August 16 –- The military’s Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) today confirmed that one of the slain Abu Sayyaf bandits during last Wednesday’s day-long clashes in Tipo-tipo town, Basilan was a fenale fighter, boosting military claims that ASG ranks is now dwindling.

Quoting reports from his ground commanders, Maj. Gen. Ben Dolorfino, Wesmincom chief, said that one of the 31 recovered bodies of slain anti-government forces in Sitio Kulerem, Barangay Silangkum was a woman.

”I think that shows that the numbers of Abu Sayyaf now is dwindling and they have to involve the women in the fight,” said Dolorfino.

Dolorfino said that the military is continuously conducting pursuit operations against the Abu Sayyaf and lawless Moro Islamic Liberation Front members in Basilan province.

”As ordered by the President, we should harness all available means and resources so that we would be able to conclude this campaign against the Abu Sayyaf at the soonest possible time…operations are continuing on the ground…and this will be coupled by enhanced civil military operations,” said Dolorfino.

”Our time frame is at the soonest time possible and we hope that we’ll be able to accomplish this by the end of the year,’ Dolorfino also said.

Earlier, the Philippine Navy deployed several assets along the seas of Basilan and adjacent provinces of Sulu and Zamboanga to prevent the Abu Sayyaf bandits from fleeing the province to evade government security forces.

Only on Saturday, another clash erupted between pursuing government troops and the ASG in nearby Sumisip town, resulting in the wounding of a Marine soldier while the terrorist group suffered undetermined number of casualties.

Day-long clashes on Wednesday had resulted in the killing of 23 government security forces and 31 combined ASG and lawless members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The presence of MILF members in the encounter site has prompted the military to file formal complaint before the coordinating committee on cessation of hostilities (CCCH) which is monitoring the ceasefire between the government and the secessionist group as part of the confidence-building for the resumption of the peace talks.

Both the government and the MILF, however, expressed optimism the incident in Tipo-tipo will not affect the smooth resumption of peace negotiations schedules this coming October.(PNA)/V3/MM/

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