AFP: 81 Abus killed, 50 surrendered, 18 nabbed since January

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Soldiers ferried on truck (file photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 17) — A total of 149 members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) had been "neutralized" so far since all-out offensives against the bandit group were launched this year, according to the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) on Wednesday.

Of this figure, the Zamboanga City-based Command said 81 of the lawless elements had been killed, while 50 had surrendered. The remaining 18 had been arrested.

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

The military added that the operations also netted 70 high-powered and low-powered firearms.

The latest skirmishes between government forces and the bandits were in Patikul, Sulu earlier in the day, resulting in the death of two ASG members.

"We were also able to recover the remains of the two Abu Sayyaf bandits who are still yet to be identified," Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu said. "Fortunately, no one was hurt from among our soldiers."

Related: 19 ASG members in Basilan surrender to military

Meanwhile, Westmincom commander Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez said that there was strong reason to believe that the bandit group had been decimated from over 500 members to less than half of this number.

"Our forces are in full throttle doing both lethal and non-lethal approaches. It will just be a matter of time that we will defeat the entire group," Galvez said.