AFP to hunt down terrorist groups after Marawi crisis
ILIGAN CITY, Philippines – With renewed vigor and a high morale after killing the top leaders behind the siege in Marawi City, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will go after other terror groups in the country, aiming to put an end to them before the year’s end.
In a press conference inside the headquarters of the army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade on Monday afternoon, October 16, AFP chief General Eduardo Año said that they will intensify their efforts to hunt down other terror organizations in the country.
“We in the military, we will not relax or sit on our laurels over our victory but it will even inspire our armed forces and the police and other law enforcement agencies to go after the remaining [terrorists] and finish them off,” Año said.
Año added that they will aim for Basilan, Sulu, and Maguindanao to finish off other terror groups there by the end of 2017.
The AFP chief added that with the death of Isnilon Hapilon, the leader of the notorious Abu Sayyaf Group from Basilan, the terror organization is left with no leader.
Hapilon and Maute Group leader Omar Maute were killed Monday morning in a surgical operation by Joint Task Group Ranao led by Special Forces from the Army, Marines, and the Philippine National Police.
Isnilon suffered a gunshot wound to the chest while a sniper snuffed the life out of Maute through a headshot.
Año said that the AFP is ready for any backlash that would spring from the death of Maute and Hapilon, the supposed emir of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Southeast Asia.
“We are prepared for that – any backlash or reaction that they will do, whether military or non-military reactions. That is our job, that is our competency, but definitely, as I said, this is a very big setback on their movement,” Año said.
The AFP chief however acknowledged that there are still ISIS sympathizers that they need to neutralize.
The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), has previously pledged allegiance to ISIS.
But Año downplayed the capacity of the BIFF to stage an attack at the scale of the Marawi siege.
“They cannot take over Cotabato City or General Santos or any particular big municipality in central Mindanao because our forces are strategically located, and of course we have the MILF cooperating with us,” Año said. – Rappler.com