This photo taken on June 1, 2016
shows Philippine soldiers on patrol during an operation against
Daesh-linked militants at a remote village in Butig town, Lanao del Sur
province. (AFP photo)
killed at least 40 members of the Daesh-affiliated Abu Sayyaf militant
group and injured 25 others in the country’s volatile south, a military
According to regional military spokesman,
Major Filemon Tan, who was speaking on Monday, the casualties occurred
in two battlefronts in the country’s southern islands in the first major
counter-terrorism operation under the new Philippine President Rodrigo
Duterte which started last week.
He said 22 militants were killed
and 16 others sustained injuries in the assaults that began in the
jungles of Sulu islands, located about 590 miles (950 kilometers) south
of the Philippine capital of Manila.
Tan added that 18 Abu Sayyaf
militants were killed and nine others wounded in a simultaneous
offensive on the nearby island of Basilan.
One Philippine soldier was reportedly killed in the fighting in Sulu.
undated image grab taken on October 13, 2015 from a video uploaded on
YouTube shows gunmen standing behind three foreign men (not pictured)
who were kidnapped in the southern Philippines. (AFP photo)
Sayyaf, quite well-known for its kidnappings, beheadings and deadly
bombings, was founded in 1991 on southern Basilan island with a pledge
to wage a war against the government.
Abu Sayyaf members are in constant clashes with the Philippine forces across the troubled region.
Takfiri group lost major commanders at the beginning of its fight and
was gradually split into factions with a few hundred militants. The
group continues to survive on ransom and extortion.
president, who started his six-year term on June 30, has warned the Abu
Sayyaf to stop the wave of ransom kidnappings.
Officials say Abu
Sayyaf is still holding some 14 foreign hostages, including one Dutch,
one Norwegian, five Filipinos and seven Indonesians.
2014, the militant group claimed it received USD 5.3 million in exchange
for two German hostages they held captive for six months.
year, two major commanders of Abu Sayyaf expressed their support for the
Daesh Takfiri terrorists mainly operating in Iraq and Syria.
Abu Sayyaf was once regarded as an offshoot of al-Qaeda.