PETALING JAYA: Intelligence sources in the Philippines have revealed that many key leaders of terror group Abu Sayyaf were killed in recent operations by the military, The Star reported.
While no information has been given by the Philippines as to the identities of those who were killed, sources said that among the dead were known gunmen involved in the beheading of hostages.
Previously, the Philippine military had announced the death of Buchoy Hassan, also known as Black or Bocoi. The military said Bocoi was one of 30 Abu Sayyaf members killed in military operations against the gunmen believed to have beheaded kidnap victims.
Among their victims was Sarawakian Bernard Thien, the first Malaysian hostage to have been beheaded by the kidnap-for-ransom group.
Thien was killed on Jolo island on Nov 17, 2015.
However, sources believe other Abu Sayyaf leaders such as Idang Susukan and Majan Sahidjuan, also known as Apo Mike, were also killed, with many others on the run, according to The Star.
Apo Mike and Idang are among 23 Filipino nationals who were previously reported to be on the Eastern Sabah Security Command’s (Esscom) wanted list.
Those on the run include Alhabsi Misaya and Muamar Askali, or Abu Rami, the report said. Abu Rami is believe to be the group’s negotiator for the release of hostages.
Anti-kidnapping activist Professor Octavio Dinampo told the daily that Atai, an Abu Sayyaf sub-commander, had also been killed along with his wife and that of Idang.
“It is becoming more difficult for the gunmen. There has been no let up in the offensive and they have to be on the move constantly,” he told The Star in a telephone interview.