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At least 650 ‘terrorists’ neutralized in 1st half of 2021 — AFP

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At least 650 persons belonging to groups involved in terrorism were either killed, captured, or have surrendered to government forces during the first half of the year, the military reported Thursday.

The Armed Forces released figures of its “accomplishments” after Gen. Cirilito Sobejana presided over his final command conference as AFP chief of staff on Wednesday.

According to the AFP, 372 communist rebels were “neutralized” from May to June alone.

A total of 114 members of the Abu Sayyaf, 124 members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and 40 members of the Dawlah Islamiyah, on the other hand, were neutralized from January 1 to June 30.

Of the 372 communist rebels, 42 were killed, 53 were apprehended or captured, and 277 have surrendered. They include 80 high-value targets and four finance officers, the military said.

Some 728 supporters of the communist movement withdrew their support, while 730 assorted firearms and 140 anti-personnel mines were also seized during the period, the AFP said.

Sobejana, who is set to retire from military service on July 31, called on military units to continue their momentum.

“The remaining months this year shall be our final push to decisively defeat the local terrorist and communist terrorist groups,” he said, adding that there was a need for the AFP to shift its focus to external defense.

The AFP Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), in a separate report, said 114 members of the Abu Sayyaf, 104 of the BIFF, and 64 communist rebels were either killed, captured, or have surrendered in its areas of responsibility.

Fifty members of the BIFF were reported as killed, along with 21 of the Abu Sayyaf and two communist rebels, while the rest were either arrested or have surrendered.

Eleven of them were high-value targets, while a total of 218 firearms were seized from the groups, according to the command.

Westmincom covers the entire Zamboanga Peninsula and Lanao provinces, almost all of Central Mindanao, as well as the archipelago composed of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.

“Overall, through the sustained efforts of the command and the neutralization of key leaders, the manpower and capabilities of  terrorist groups have totally degraded,” Wesmincom chief Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan said.

Aside from guns seized during operations, “loose firearms” composed of 305 high-powered and 101 low-powered guns were surrendered to different units during the first half of the year, he added.

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