Gov't troops pound Abu Sayyaf in Sulu

Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 31 2019 10:47 PM

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The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Thursday continued to pound the mountains of Sulu in pursuit of the Abu Sayyaf Group, whose members, they believe, are connected to the Jolo cathedral bombing.

The AFP used airstrikes to fight the enemy hiding in the the mountains and thick jungle foliage.

The Philippine Air Force has joined the fight against the Abu Sayyaf, helping ground troops as they crawl toward their targets.

On Thursday morning, ground troops again encountered the Ajang-ajang group in Patikul and engaged them in brief gun battle.

The encounter happened in Latih village, several kilometers from a temporary shelter for refugees.

It was also this village where government forces raided the location of alias Kamah, the Ajang-ajang leader who they believe are involved in the cathedral bombing.

The constant presence of threats has led the community to flee their homes.

Life in camp is far from ideal, but if the alternative is to get caught in the crossfire, then these families will always choose to flee.

SEARCH FOR CLUES

While the battle continues, in ground zero, the counter-terrorism division of the National Bureau of Investigation searched every inch of the cathedral.

Experts search for telltale signs as to the style of the bombing, which will hopefully lead to the identity of the bomber.

Except there's a bit of a complication, since so many people have stepped through the church and contaminated the scene since the blast happened.

All the objects inside the church, including the pews, have been taken out as well.

The day after the bombing, several government officials came to visit the site. Even President Rodrigo Duterte walked through the grounds, and the media sent to cover them all.

The pews have now been placed on the side of the cathedral. On the wood are traces of the blast that could have potentially been clues, but they can no longer paint an accurate picture because they are no longer where they used to be.

Malacañang insists the country remains a safe place despite the spate of bombing in Mindanao.

The Palace also assured the public there would be no spillover of violence to other parts of the country.