A NOTORIOUS commander of extremist group Abu Sayyaf, responsible for multiple kidnappings and beheadings, was killed in a clash with marines late Friday night, according to Military chief General Eduardo Ano.
Ano told the Associated Press (via SBS) on Saturday that Alhabsy Misaya was slain in the jungle in Sulu province and was identified as the notorious commander by captured Abu Sayyaf militants.
“We consider him the most notorious kidnapper from that bandit group and this is a big setback to the Abu Sayyaf,” Ano said.
Misaya has been blamed for the kidnapping of dozens of Malaysian and Indonesian hostages, often sailing across the sea border into Malaysian waters to abduct tourists for ransom.
He is also infamous for kidnapping dozens of mostly Indonesian, Vietnamese and Malaysian crewmen from cargo ships and fishing boats working along the Southern Philippines sea border with Malaysia.
A kidnapped Malaysian man was beheaded by Misaya’s group in November 2015.
It was reported that the militant group may have been holding several abducted Vietnamese sailors in Sulu’s jungles where Misaya was detected and slain, but the hostages were not found at the site of the clash.
Abu Sayyaf have long laid siege to the waters off Southern Philippines. The group originally had Muslim separatist aims but now engages mostly in banditry and piracy.
The Philippine military has been undertaking a major offensive against the group in recent months following Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s vow to quash the militants using the full force of the armed forces.
Earlier this month, government forces clashed with Abu Sayyaf terrorists on the popular tourist island of Bohol, leaving eight people dead, including three Philippine military personnel.