President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said he has ordered the military to destroy the Abu Sayyaf Group because they are nothing more than criminals.
Duterte, in a speech at the 10th anniversary celebration of the Eastern Mindanao Command in Panacan, Davao City, said the bandit group is "slaughtering people as if they are chickens in front of the public."
"Even if we grant them autonomy we will never have peace in the country," he said.
"Ang Abu Sayyaf is out of control, lalo na iyung beheading ng bata," Duterte added. [The Abu Sayyaf is out of control, especially the beheading of a teen.]
He was referring to a teenager held for ransom and later killed by the terrorist group on Thursday.
READ: Abus behead abducted teen
"Kayong mga Abu Sayyaf, saludo ako sa inyo dati, pero when you start beheading people in front of the camera, nawala ang respeto ko. [My] order to army: destroy them, kill them," Duterte said.
The military has launched a new offensive against the Abu Sayyaf in Patikul, Sulu, resulting in the death of 11 members of the bandit group.
Among those killed was ASG sub-leader Mohammad Said, also known as Ama Maas, who had five standing warrants of arrest for murder, said Western Mindanao Command (WESMINCOM) spokesperson Major Filemon Tan Jr.
Said was involved in the abduction of several hostages in Samal, which included Maritess Flor and Norwegian Kjartan Sikkengstad.
The military said that on the government side, 17 soldiers of Joint Task Group Sulu (JTGS) were wounded in the encounter with more or less 100 ASG members in Sitio Makaita, Barangay Bunkaong, Patikul, Sulu, which started at around 5:30 a.m. Friday.
Severely wounded soldiers were transported to Zamboanga City for further medication. Some soldiers who were only slightly wounded opted to stay after treatment in Sulu to continue pursuit operations.