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Philippines positions naval blockade against Abu Sayyaf

By Amy R. Connolly

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- The Philippine navy deployed its newest and largest ship to establish a blockade around the island province of Sulu to prevent the Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf from fleeing.

The BRP Tarlac will lead the blockade in the Sulu Sea after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the country's military to destroy the terror-linked group. Abu Sayyaf has claimed responsibility for a bombing that left 15 dead in Davao City and for multiple beheadings in the past months.

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Brig. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, commander of a joint task force battling the group, said the ship will serve as a command and control center for naval operations. The navy is preparing to track down Abu Sayyaf members if they attempt to flee, he said.

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