The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said that they were able to seize 11 long and high-caliber firearms from the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) militants who infiltrated Bohol in April throughout the government’s over month-long manhunt operations against the bandits.
According to Brig. Gen. Arnulfo Matanguihan, commander of the 302nd Infantry Brigade, security forces retrieved four rifles from the bandit group right after the first encounter on April 12 in Barangay Napo, Inabanga where ASG sub-leader Muamar Askali, alias “Abu Rami,” was killed.
Security forces including the Philippine National Police also recovered a .45 pistol from the slain militants in the said village.
After the second encounter in Clarin on April 22, the AFP seized three long firearms including a Galil rifle with an M203 grenade launcher which was initially used by Rami and then ASG bandit and Bohol native Joselito Melloria who was killed by authorities along with three others in the clash.
On May 4, ASG straggler Abu Saad came out of hiding admittedly due to hunger and was arrested by soldiers in Barangay Tanawan, Tubigon allegedly in possession of a .45 caliber pistol.
Authorities’ convergence around Saad’s location was prompted by information relayed by a villager to a Philippine Army detachment in the said barangay while the militant was being fed by another resident.
In Pangangan Island, Calape, police and military operatives seized one M16 rifle and a .45 caliber pistol during the encounter between the last two ASG fighters and government troops on May 15.
The rifle and handgun were retrieved from “Abu Ubayda” and “Abu Asis,” respectively, after they were gunned down by security forces.
Meanwhile, Matanguihan denied claims that the AFP recovered a large amount of money from the slain members of the Al-Qaeda-linked ASG.
The military official also assured the public that government troops in Bohol have the capacity to again thwart terrorist plots by lawless elements.
Security forces also remained on alert against retaliatory attacks from the bandit group, Matanguihan said.
There are enough government troops stationed in Bohol to counter security threats, he added. (Rey Tutas)