A MEMBER of the Abu Sayyaf, described by the military as a follower of the militant group’s top leader Radulan Sahiron, surrendered and turned over his weapon on Feb. 10, the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) reported on Tuesday. Sixty year-old Basari Sali surrendered to the troops of the Philippine Marine Ready Force Sulu and gave them his Grand rifle. “The intensive efforts and dedication of the government troops, particularly the Fleet-Marine forces in Sulu, led to the surrender of Sali and the recovery of a loose firearm,” said Rear Admiral Rene V. Medina, commander of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao. Government forces have been pursuing the Abu Sayyaf in the jungles of Sulu, with operations intensified in the aftermath of the church bombing in Jolo, Sulu’s capital, last Jan. 27. The Abu Sayyaf has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, which claimed responsibility for the twin bombings. Lieutenant General Arnel B. Dela Vega, WestMinCom commander, said, “With the escalated offensives and the pursuit of remaining terrorists, we anticipate that more Abu Sayyaf militants will be convinced to abandon the group and surrender to the troops in Sulu.” He added, “Nevertheless, our heightened operations will continue to crush the militants and suppress terrorism in the province.”