Philippines: Major blow to the Abu Sayyaf as leader killed

Muammar Askali, the Abu Sayyaf Group leader blamed for the “long-range pirate attacks” against German cruising couple Stefan Okonek and Henrike Dielen and the Ocean View Resort kidnappings on Samal, is confirmed to have been killed during a raid in Bohol, north of Mindanao.

Published 6 years ago, updated 4 years ago

FILIPINO troops battling militants in a central province have killed a key Abu Sayyaf commander who had been blamed for the beheadings of two Canadians and a German hostage and was apparently attempting another kidnapping mission.

Military chief of staff General Eduardo Ano said troops had recovered and identified the remains of Moammar Askali, who used the nom de guerre Abu Rami, at the scene of the battle in a far-flung coastal village on Bohol island.

Ano said troops took a picture of Askali after his death and that captured Abu Sayyaf militants identified the young militant leader.

“This is a major blow to the Abu Sayyaf,” Ano told AP.

“If they have further plans to kidnap innocent people somewhere, they will now have to think twice.”

The military chief said Askali had led several militants who traveled by speedboats from their jungle camps in southern Sulu province to Bohol province in an apparent bid to carry out another kidnapping in a region that is popular for its beach resorts and wildlife.

Canadians Robert Hall, 67, and John Ridsdel, 68, were kidnapped on Holiday Ocean View Samal Resort, on Samal Island in the southern Philippines on September 21, 2015. Hall was confirmed beheaded in June last year and Ridsdel was executed on April 25 last year.

German Jurgen Kantner was abducted from his yacht in waters off the southern Philippines in November last year. Kantner’s female companion, Sabine Merz, was found dead aboard the drifting yacht with a gunshot wound. Kantner was beheaded on the tiny southern island of Jolo in February.

Whilst the ASG threat is not yet over around Jolo / Basilan, this news indicates that there might be a change of situation in the mid-term future.

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