By Roel Pareño (philstar.com) | Updated December 31, 2012 - 10:33am
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - Marines will continue operations even on New Year's Day against the bandit group Abu Sayyaf, which is believed to be holding captive four foreign nationals in the jungles of Sulu.
“There is no halting in the operation commitment. It is on going on a normal basis,” said Col. Armando Bañez, deputy for Marine Operation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' Naval Forces Western Mindanao.
Bañez said the intelligence build-up has not slowed down either to determine the exact target areas where the Abu Sayyaf groups have been seeking temporary sanctuary.
Part of the intelligence work was to determine where the bandits are keeping the its kidnap victims, including Australian Warren Richard Rodwell, Europeans Elwold Horn and Lorenzo Vinceguerre.
The bandit group is also believed to be holding captive Jordanian broadcast journalist Baker Atyani and three Filipinos.
The official said that based on ground reports, the bandits separately holding the kidnap victims are regularly moving from one place to another to evade government forces.
Bañez also said that Marines have also been deployed to government installations in the province to prevent the possibility of the militants taking advantage of the holiday and stage an attack during the New Year.
“They (Marines) are ready for that possibility,” he added.
Meanwhile, security operations in Basilan province also remained active despite the holidays.
Chief Superintendent Juanito Vaño, director of the Philippine National Police's Western Mindanao regional police office, said combat police forces have a standing order to relentlessly pursue the lawless elements.
“We will not stop. Operations will continue with the usual manhunt against the targets and intensify the case build-up,” Vaño said.