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ZAMBOANGA CITY – Filipino troops killed an Abu Sayyaf militant, whose notorious group was believed behind cross-border raids in Malaysia, officials said Sunday.

Officials said Rakib Dahsul was slain in fierce fighting that also wounded Jaber Susukan, brother of Abu Sayyaf leader Idang Susukan, in the hinterlands of Talipao town in Sulu province. There was no report of military casualties in the weekend clashes.

Soldiers managed to recover the body of Dahsul, a follower of militant commander Apoh Mike tagged by Malaysian authorities as behind the spate of ransom kidnappings in Sabah. Troops also retrieved two M16 automatic rifles as military campaign against the pro-ISIS group further intensifies as the Abu Sayyaf has threatened to execute three of its hostages – two Indonesians and a Malaysia fisherman – kidnapped at sea of Sabah in December.

Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, the regional military commander, said the offensives against the terrorist group were meant to debilitate and inflict more casualties on the enemies. “While we are advancing on our campaign, we will sustain our offensives and employ more pressure on the terrorists,” he said.

Abu Sayyaf militants, whose group has pledged allegiance to ISIS, said they will kill the hostages if ransoms are not paid in exchange for their lives, Malaysian media reports said.

It said militants, who spoke in Bahasa Malaysia, released a video clip which showed the Indonesian hostages – believed to be Heri Ardiansyah, 19, and Hariadin, 45 – being guarded by gunmen. The Malaysian hostage, Jari Abdulla, 24, was not with the duo.

The captives, their eyes covered with black cloth and hands tied behind their back, made an emotional appeal for their government to save them. One militant even held a bolo on the neck of Hariadin as he spoke to the camera in forested area.

The video, reports said, surfaced several days after Abu Sayyaf gunmen phoned Jari’s wife, Nadin Junianti, saying that no Malaysian authorities or negotiators have contacted them to secure her husband’s release.

The gunmen said that her husband would face difficulties if there was no contact from Malaysia. They also asked her for telephone contacts of Malaysian journalists. Nadin has appealed to Malaysian authorities to help secure her husband’s release. She said it was second time the kidnap group had contacted her.

Conflicting reports on Abu Sayyaf ransom demands said the militant were asking between P10 million to P100 million. The militants are believed to be holding nearly a dozen captives, mostly foreigners. Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Omar Mammah has said that they were working with their Philippines counterparts to secure the hostages’ release.

Malaysian Premier Mahathir Mohamad was in the Philippines on Friday and met separately with Filipino leader Rodrigo Duterte and former rebel chieftain Murad Ebrahim, who is now the Chief Minister of the newly-created Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

It was unknown whether Mahathir discussed with Duterte and Ebrahim the continued Abu Sayyaf incursions and ransom kidnappings in Sabah or the impending execution of the hostages. (Mindanao Examiner)


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