Lanao Sur offensive designed to degrade Maute Group capabilities: AFP

MANILA-- The recent operation against the Maute Group, which killed 37 bandits, is part of ongoing military efforts to degrade the capability of the brigands to wreak terror in Mindanao and other parts of the country, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief, Gen. Eduardo AAo said Tuesday.

The military operation in Lanao del Sur province, conducted on April 21-24, was a deliberate military offensive purely designed to degrade the capability of the Maute Group, AAo said in an interview.

In that offensive, 37 Maute Group members were killed, 14 of whom have been identified. They include three Indonesians and one Malaysian whose names and identities are still being verified, he said.

The AFP chief added that this operation is in line with ongoing efforts to neutralize the remaining Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits in Bohol who made an ill-advised attempt to land in Inabanga last April 10 to abduct some local and foreign tourists to boost their kidnap-for-ransom activities.

As of this posting, eight of the 11 ASG fighters under Muamar Askali alias "Abu Rami" have been killed, along with the bandit commander and their Inabanga contact, Joselito Milloria.

The AFP chief added that they are still locating a certain Imnam Bantayao or Bayabao, a former Moro Islamic Liberation Front leader under Commander Bravo, and ASG leader Isnilon Hapilon, believed to have been killed or severely wounded in the series of military offensives.

"We are still conducting mopping operations to locate Hapilon or proof of life (along with Bantayao or Bayabao)," he disclosed.

AAo declined to give a number of the surviving Maute Group members following this offensive, adding that an assessment will be implemented shortly.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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