Over 300 families flee homes
At least 347 families in Patikul, Sulu have fled their homes as the military continues to hunt down members of the Abu Sayyaf group (ASG) who may have been behind the deadly attack on a cathedral in Jolo on Sunday.
According to a report on “24 Oras” on Wednesday by GMA News’ Emil Sumangil, families set out to find temporary shelter in neighboring towns such as Jolo and Indanan amid the military operations.
Many evacuees left town in vehicles, but some reportedly set out on foot to reach locations up to seven hours away just to get away from the firefight.
It has been three days since the attack on the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral, but aerial, land and sea assets of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were still combing the area for bandits.
The report said the military sent out at least 10 marine, army and police battalions to go after some 300 ASG members operating within Patikul.
The Marine Special Operations Group sailed out to surrounding islands in Jolo and conducted clearing operations upon information that ASG members have been sighted in the area.
The teams had yet to find bandits in the island communities as of the report, according to Colonel ArmelTolato, Philippine Marine Ready Force-Sulu commander.
“Walanamankamingnakitanamgaarmadodoon, at least nalamannaminangsitwasyon, at nakausapnaminangmgataoroon,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Air Force sent out attack helicopters to the forests of Patikul in hot pursuit of ASG members allegedly operating in the Maligay, Tanun and Tugas barangays but the mission was aborted due to thick cloud buildup,
Nevertheless, General Divino Rey Pabayo, Jr., JTF Sulu chief, said aerial assets will be at the ready to assist assets on the ground.
“Nakitaniyonamanna low ceiling so mahirap pong mag-deliver tayo ng ordnance kung gano’nnamababapoangulap but we are waiting kung may request poangmga ground troops ponatin, anytime, puwedetayong mag-deliver po ng mga ordinance,” Pabayo said.
Ground troops continued to fire heavy artillery at enemy territory where ASG leaders Sawadjaan, Almodyir Yada and RadulanSahiron have allegedly been hiding.
Security forces also raided the home of alias “Kamah,” one of the suspects in the Mount Carmel Cathedral bombing in Sulu’s Jolo town.
A 62-year-old named OmmalYusop believed to be Kamah’s relative, was at the residence, but was killed after reportedly resisting arrest.
Operatives also recovered a .45 caliber pistol, a sniper scope, two mobile phones, and a motorcycle from the residence.
The military had been unleashing offensives in Sulu after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the AFP to “destroy” the bandit group following the deadly blasts that killed at least 21 and injured almost 100 others. —GMA News