MANILA - Eight members of the Abu Sayyaf Group reportedly under terrorist leaders Radullan Sahiron and Mundi Sawadjaan surrendered to military authorities in Sulu province Wednesday afternoon.
The militants, aged 28 to 54, surrendered "for fear of being caught in an armed encounter" with government forces and after their sub-leader, Abduljihad "Idang" Susukan, yielded to authorities in Davao City last Aug. 13, said Lt. Col. Ronaldo Mateo, Public Information Officer of the Joint Task Force Sulu.
Brig. Gen. William Gonzales, commander of JTF Sulu, said they also "turned their backs" to the terror group "mainly for distrust and dissatisfaction on the leadership."
The 8 surrendered to Col. Antonio Bautista, Jr., commander of the Philippine Army's 1101st Brigade, and were presented to Maj. Gen. Reynaldo Aquino, the Philippine Army's vice commander who was visiting the unit's 11th Infantry Division in Sulu.
"There will be no let-up on our focused military operation until we have neutralized Mundi Sawadjaan and Radullan Sahiron," said Gonzales.
The military identified Sawadjaan as the mastermind of the Aug. 24 twin bombings in Jolo town that killed 17 people, including two suspected suicide bombers, and injured over 70 others.
Pursuit operations have been carried out against Sawadjaan's group following the incident, leading to an encounter in Patikul town last Sept. 20, and the seizure of their suspected lair on Tuesday in Indanan.
Gonzales said that while government welcomes terrorists who decide to surrender, his unit will continue focusing its "full force" on "remaining members of the ASG who continue to sow terror."