MANILA — The military has conducted airstrikes against Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) targets in Sulu on Tuesday.
“(Yes), we did airstrikes yesterday (Tuesday). (I’m) not sure if there are (any) now,” Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) Wednesday.
Lorenzana said the airstrikes were in retaliation for the twin bombings in the province’s capital town of Jolo, which left 21 persons dead and 97 others wounded last Sunday.
“(I) don’t know how many sorties (were conducted),” the Defense chief said when asked how many bombing missions were carried out by the military against the ASG rebels.
Reports said government troops launched airstrikes against the ASG in the towns of Patikul and Indanan in Sulu, following President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to pulverize the terror group.
Calls for calm
Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) called on the public to exercise sobriety and calm in the light of the recent attacks.
“Let us not be swayed by the recent developments that seem to project a religious complexion in the recent tragic incidents: in Jolo on Sunday (January 27) and on January 30, 2019 (Wednesday) around 20 minutes past midnight,” AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said in a statement.
Three days after the deadly attack at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, a grenade blast inside a mosque in Zamboanga City killed two persons and injured three others.
“The AFP Chief of Staff, Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., conveys the sincere condolences and deep sympathies of soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines to the victims of the attack against civilians inside a mosque at Barangay Talon-Talon in Zamboanga City,” Arevalo said.
He assured that government troops are currently conducting an investigation to determine the motive of the attacks and bring the perpetrators to justice.
“Your security forces have assisted the victims even as the investigation is ongoing to get to the bottom of this incident. We exhort our citizens, for your help and cooperation with your government security forces in addressing these evolving challenges,” Arevalo said.
Arevalo also urged citizens to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity or the presence of unfamiliar persons in their areas.
“Gen. Madrigal assures that the best AFP commanders are on the ground and that, in cooperation with the PNP and other agencies of government, are firmly committed to neutralizing these threats. But we can best attain that if we have the unequivocal support of our people in every sitios and barangays since they are more familiar in their localities,” he said.
Priam Nepomuceno / PNA – northboundasia.com