MANILA — A new military unit, the 63rd Infantry Battalion, has arrived in Sulu Wednesday to help in the ongoing operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Sulu, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said.
“(Arrival of 63rd Infantry Battalion) is part of augmentation of troops announced by the Palace,” Padilla said.
The 63rd Infantry Battalion is a field unit of the Catbalogan-based 8th Infantry Division and formerly deployed in the Samar area.
It left its former area-of-operations early this week.
As this develops, Padilla said no new encounters have been reported with the ASG but shelling of bandit positions have been a “regular occurrence”.
“The required artillery support or fire support that our operating troops are requesting are (always) provided, we have adequate air and naval support,” Padilla said.
Currently, there are 5,000 soldiers in Sulu and another 2,500 in Basilan.
Around 15 troopers were killed and 12 others were wounded after military units clashed heavily with ASG bandits, headed by Radullan Sahiron, at Sitio Kan Jalul, Barangay Maligay, Patikul, Sulu last Aug. 29.
A total of 30 terrorists were reported to have been killed during the ongoing focused military operations against the ASG which started last week.
Another 11 brigands were reported wounded in the series of clashes with government forces.
The offensive was the offshoot of the bandit group’s brutal beheading of 18-year-old Patrick Jhames Almodavar last week.