The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Tuesday allayed fears that the three remaining Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) men have managed to slip out of Clarin amid reports indicating that the bandits escaped to adjacent towns.
According to Capt. Jojo MascariÃ±as, spokesperson of the AFPâ€™s 302nd Brigade, the militants have not gone far from the latest clash sites in Barangays Bacani and Caboy of Clarin.
The ASG men are still within the Clarin boundary, said MascariÃ±as.
They are now struggling to navigate through the townâ€™s hinterlands after their guide, Bohol native and ASG leader Joselito Melloria, was killed in an encounter against army troops on Saturday, he added.
MascariÃ±as pointed out that it took the bandits over a week to reach Clarin from their suspected landing site of Barangay Napo, Inabanga with Melloria.
It would be even more difficult to reach other towns without Melloria, a Napo native who also studied at one of the public schools in Clarin, he said.
The AFP official also assured that blocking forces have been stationed across Clarin to prevent the stragglers from crossing over to neighboring towns.
Meanwhile, the military released the latest official poster of the slain ASG men and remaining stragglers identified as â€œAsis;â€ Kaifar Sawadjaan, aka Um Ammra, aka Abu Omar; and â€œUbayda.â€
Deaths confirmed by authorities include those of Mouamar Askali, alias Abu Rami; â€œAbu Sufyan;â€ Edimar Isnain; Joselito Melloria, alias Abu Alih; â€œRichard;â€ â€œOmil;â€ Aldimar Taib and one still unidentified man. (Allen Doydora)