Sulu offensives to continue through Ramadan – AFP Chief
Manila-- Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. announced Monday. that military offensives against suspected al Qaeda-linked militants in the southern Philippines will continue throughout the Islamic holy month of Ramadan
He also announced that another company of Scout Rangers, or around 100 troops, were dispatched to the province of Sulu on Sunday to augment the 6,000 troops already in the area, Esperon told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.
But the troops have orders to refrain from using artillery fire "as much as possible" during Ramadan, Esperon said.
"It (offensive) will continue. You know terrorism doesn't respect any religion so we can't say that they will not terrorize while we celebrate Ramadan," he said.
Esperon said military commanders in the area have warned local officials in Sulu about the continuation of operations over Ramadan.
The military set up a dragnet in Sulu last August 1 to catch Abu Sayyaf chieftain Khadaffy Janjalani and Jemaah Islamiyah explosives experts Umar Patek and Dulmatin, who allegedly masterminded the 2002 Bali bombings.
Since then, 16 soldiers have been killed and 82 others wounded. On the militants’ side, 13 have been killed, seven wounded and 10 captured, the AFP reports said. More than 12,000 civilians had been affected by the operations.