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ZAMBOANGA CITY – Three Abu Sayyaf fighters have surrendered to the military in Sulu province in southern Philippines as security forces continue its operation against the ISIS-inspired rebel group.

Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, said the trio – Radjuli Hadjijani, 25; Jun-Jun Elah, 45; and Indek Sahimarri, 28, surrendered Thursday afternoon. They also handed over their M1 Garand rifles to the 101st Infantry Brigade under Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo.

Pabayo, in his report, said he ordered the Abu Sayyaf members to undergo medical examination and documentation as part of a routine before military interrogation.

Some 127 Abu Sayyaf fighters had surrendered to the military in the Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, and Zamboanga City since January this year, according to Besana.

Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said security forces have intensified its offensive operation against the notorious group in an effort to neutralize those who continue to fight the government.

“Our joint task forces are committed in intensifying the offensives to neutralize the remaining lawless elements in their area. The series of operational accomplishments are attributed to our stalwart soldiers on the ground who never falter,” he said.

The surrender coincided with fighting between military and Abu Sayyaf forces in Kuppong village in Indanan town where 3 rebels had been killed, but troops only recovered one body.

The slain Abu Sayyaf fighter – identified as Pakam Sappari, a skilled sea navigator involved in the spate of ransom kidnappings – was part of some 60 rebels who fought soldiers for about 2 hours. There was no report of military casualties in the clash, but one soldier died and 10 others wounded in Wednesday fighting in Patikul town.

The Abu Sayyaf is still holding nearly a dozen hostages, mostly foreign sailors kidnapped at sea in the restive region over the past years. (Mindanao Examiner)


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