Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. (Photo: Reuters)

Hanoi (VNA) – President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte has urged the Abu Sayyaf rebel group to stop pirate activities and start direct negotiations with him.

Speaking after visiting soldiers injured in the fight with the rebel group, Duterte said that negotiations can take place if Abu Sayyaf stops all the illegal actions.

Earlier, the Philippine leader affirmed that, no peaceful measures can be applied to tackle Abu Sayyaf. However, as 10,000 deployed soldiers could not handle kidnapping in the country’s southern region, he said, adding war is not the solution.

Duterte has called for a peace process with all rebel groups nationwide, excluding Abu Sayyaf, since he addressed the group as cruel enemy of the country given they took innocent lives for money.

The Muslim Abu Sayyaf group was established in the 90s of the previous century, with about 400 gunmen active in the south region of the Philippines. The group is infamous for abduction for ransom, bombings and hostage executions. The group is based in Jolo and Basilan and holding 22 captives at the moment, mainly foreigners.

Abu Sayyaf has become a major concern of the Philippines’ neighbouring countries of Malaysia and Indonesia, as the group’s hostage list includes sailors of those countries.

Earlier this year, the group executed two Canadian hostages after not receiving ransom. Although Abu Sayyaf’s leaders pledged loyalty to the self-claimed Islamic State in recent years, experts said that the group only focuses on kidnapping for money.-VNA