Global News

Marawi bishop 'happy' over rescue of abducted priest

Marawi bishop 'happy' over rescue of abducted priest

But Colonel Edgard Arevalo, the military's public affairs chief, said: "We are still validating that information. (But) we can not give you details as of now lest we imperil the lives not only of our soldiers but more so that of the hostages", Arevalo said.

Military sources said Father Soganub had already been flown to Davao city, where he was set to meet with President Rodrigo Duterte.

The priest had appeared in a video released by the militants pleading for his life and asking the military to cease their aerial bombardments.

The military chief of the city of Marawi, which Daesh terrorists took over in May, said on Sunday that forces had captured the militants' command center after a fierce battle and were now engaged in a mopping-up operation.

Photographs showing Father Soganub slumped against a wall were circulated on the internet.

Security forces have engaged in ferocious street-to-street combat and launched airstrikes in their efforts to expel the fighters from Marawi, in a battle that has left 800 dead and raised fears that IS is looking to establish a Southeast Asian base in the Philippines.

"The duo revealed (initially to the rescuing troops) that they escaped when their captors had a heavy firefight against the government forces in the said location..."

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Armed Forces chief of staff General Eduardo Año told reporters in Manila that "This (retaking of Bato mosque) enormous gain further weakened the terrorist group by denying them their erstwhile strongholds".

"As follow up and clearing operations continue, we expect the enemy to yield more previously occupied positions, but not without a fight", he said.

About 600 militants, waving Islamic State-style black flags, seized commercial buildings, mosque and houses in the city's central business district on May 23 after an army-led assault failed to get Hapilon and other militant leaders in a safe house in the mosque-studded city.

In addition to increasing their numbers with civilians, the Maute group also has been reported to be augmenting their production of improvised explosive devices by using dud bombs dropped by government forces. "We are ready for that".

Earlier, the military said bandits held their hostages in Bato Mosque.

The government said 666 militants, at least 147 government troops and 47 civilians have since been killed in the battle, which has forced thousands to flee their homes.


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