MANILA, Philippines – It was a 5 pm Noche Buena for some soldiers in the jungles of Sulu on Christmas Eve, December 24.
Troops hunting the Abu Sayyaf Group feasted on a small basin of spaghetti and a few loaves of bread – just part of the busy Christmas Eve for the troops. Others had buko juice and cassava, said Task Force Group Sulu commander Colonel Allan Arrojado.
There’s no holiday for the troops involved in the law enforcement operations in Sulu, where the military is leading the hunt for Abu Sayyaf members still holding at least 7 hostages. They continued to scour the jungles of Sulu to clear known Abu Sayyaf areas, as the rest of the country celebrates the holiday.
The Abu Sayyaf released early Wednesday morning one of its captives – Michelle Panes – in Talipao town. A hot pursuit followed after the release, said military spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc.
They also suffered a hitch when the owner of one of the houses they wanted to check refused to let them in. They received reports the bandits left in the house some a Caliber .50 machine gun and a 57RR (recoilles rocket). There’s no word if the troops were eventually allowed to check the house.
In the afternoon, they got a little luck. They recovered by chance a 60mm mortar that was hidden in a coconut drier after a brief clash between the troops and the bandits.
Abu Sayyaf is responsible for a number of the country’s worst terrorist attacks but which has in recent years focused its operations on kidnap-for-ransom activities.
The military launched intensified operations in October and are pressured by the President to wipe out the bandit group. – Rappler.com