MANILA (Xinhua) – Gregorio Pio Catapang, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), has ordered the deployment of K9 units to track down Abu Sayyaf group that is holding a German couple and several other foreign hostages in Sulu.
AFP public affairs office chief Harold Cabunoc said Catapang has given orders to different military units to consolidate all available K9 teams for deployment to the island province as soon as possible.
“The intent is to put pressure on them (Abu Sayyaf) and possibly lead to the rescue or release of the hostages. As of now, we are consolidating K9 teams that will be sent to Sulu anytime soon,” Cabunoc told a press briefing on Monday.
Cabunoc said government troops continue to conduct patrols in the bailiwick area of the Abu Sayyaf. Once assisted by the tracking dogs, he said the soldiers will be more efficient in locating the terrorists and their captives.
Catapang made the order 11 days before the deadline set by the Abu Sayyaf for the Philippine and German governments to meet their demands for the freedom of German couple.
The Abu Sayyaf group is seeking a 250-million-pesos (5.55 million US dollars) ransom from the Philippine government for the couple and for the German government to stop supporting the ongoing US campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
The group initially set the deadline on Oct 10 for the two governments to meet their demands, but the deadline was later extended to Oct 17.
The Abu Sayyaf has threatened to behead one of the hostages if their demands are not met.
The German couple was kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf group in April while aboard their yacht, on island hopping off Palawan. Recently, the two were interviewed by a radio network during which they pleaded to authorities to secure their release.
The Abu Sayyaf is holding several other foreign and Filipino hostages in Sulu, including two wildlife photographers captured in Tawi-Tawi in 2012.