Army deploys dogs to help fight Abu Sayyaf
By Mindanao Examiner
ZAMBOANGA City – The Philippine military has deployed K9 units on Tuesday to help ground troops search for at least 7 foreigners being held by Abu Sayyaf militants who threatened to behead two of their captives that sent Filipino government officials scampering to stop the twin executions.
The Western Mindanao Command said the trained dogs were airlifted by a military cargo plane to Jolo town for the deployment.
“One K9 company, consisting of 10 K9 teams (tracker and explosive detection dogs) from the Philippine Army, was sent to Sulu to support the ongoing rescue operations of kidnap victims in the area,” said Marine Captain Maria Rowena Muyuela, a spokeswoman for Western Mindanao Command.
“The K9 teams will help track down the Abu Sayyaf as military troops continue to pursue the bandits in their hiding places. Intensified law enforcement operations in coordination with the LGU and the PNP are ongoing to facilitate rescue of kidnap victims and expedite the arrest of ASG in the province,” she added.
Dogs, just like pigs, are considered unclean and forbidden in Islam.
The Abu Sayyaf – which recently pledged allegiance to jihadists fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or ISIS – said it would execute 71-year old German yachter Stefan Viktor Okonek if Berlin continues to support US airstrikes against the Sunni group fighting for Islamic caliphate.
Okonek and another German woman Herike Diesen, 55, were intercepted on April 25 while heading to Sabah in Malaysia from a holiday in the Philippines. The Abu Sayyaf also demanded P250 million ($5.6 million) ransom from Germany in exchange for the hostages. The terrorist group has set a deadline until October 10, but extended this to October 17 for Germany to comply with its demands.
Another Abu Sayyaf faction also threatened to kill Malaysian fish breeder Chan Sai Chuin, 32, who was kidnapped along with a Filipino worker on June 16 this year from a fish farm in the town of Kunak in Tawau District. The militants are demanding 3 million ringgits (P41 million) for the safe release of the fish breeder.
It is also holding captive a Malaysian policeman Kons Zakiah Aleip, 26, who was seized on June 12 also this year following a clash in Sabah that killed another policeman. The militants are demanding 5 million ringgits (P68.3 million)
The Abu Sayyaf is also holding a 64-year old Japanese treasure hunter Katayama Mamaito, who was kidnapped from Pangutaran Island in July 2010; and two European wildlife photographers Ewold Horn, 52, from Holland; and Lorenzo Vinciguerre, 47, from Switzerland, who were taken captive in the coastal village of Parangan in Panglima Sugala town in the southern Tawi-Tawi province in 2012.
The 1st Infantry Division said more troops from Manila were also sent to the southern Philippines to help implement “peace and security activities” in Zamboanga Peninsula, Misamis Occidental and Lanao provinces.
Brigadier General Gerardo Barrientos, Jr., the division commander, said soldiers from the 21st Infantry Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel Niceforo Diaz were given “force protection” equipment by the Army to increase their survivability during combat operations. He said the new unit is “equally capable of addressing various threats and emergencies.”
“The deployment of 21st Infantry Battalion will sustain our effort in bringing peace and development to the countryside. This will enhance the peace and order situation of the localities,” he said, adding at least 1,000 troops are expected to be deployed in the region to address threats posed by terrorists.