20 Abu Sayyaf killed as military overruns bandits' camp in Basilan – AFP

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 13)  — At least 20 members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) were killed after government forces launched a massive operation in Sumipsip, Basilan on Thursday, the military said.

Combining air and ground assault, the military said the bandits were "shocked" and were forced to flee with minimal resistance.

"The supersonic jet's swooshing sound may have sounded as a whisper of death to the ASGs," a special forces team leader said.

Government forces overrun the bandits' lair in Brgy. Pamatsaken and were able to seize three live improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and bomb parts capable of making 30 IEDs.

Task Force Basilan head, Col. Juvymax Uy, said the gun battle did not last long -- an indication of the bandits' dwindling forces and resources.

"We no longer experience the prolonged firefights with the ASGs. This suggests that they have run out of ammunition and other supplies necessary to engage government forces. More than just resources, they no longer have the mass base they once enjoy," Uy said.

He added that ASG members who had previously surrendered related how they had "lost the will to fight" in the wake of the military's ramped up offensive against them.

"It will only take a matter of time before the ASG succumbs and their dream of establishing a folly caliphate will finally come to an end. With the string of victories we are attaining, it will not take long before the ASGs threats are downgraded to no more than that of an ordinary criminal," Uy said.