Hostaged priest rescued by gov't troops in Marawi

Remigio Civitarese
Settembre 17, 2017

Father Teresito "Chito" Soganub, vicar-general of Marawi, was found abandoned by his captors at around 11pm on Saturday (Sept 16) near a mosque, hours after a deadly battle that saw the military seizing the militants' control centre, the government's chief peace negotiator Jesus Dureza said in a Facebook post on Sunday (Sept 17).

The two security officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly disclose details about the ongoing assaults.

The military official also said Maute leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute are still in the main battle area, based on intelligence information they have gathered.

The siege has prompted fears that Islamic State-linked extremists will gain a foothold in the southern Philippines. The United States and Australia have deployed surveillance aircraft to help Filipino troops battling the Marawi attackers. It said almost 150 soldiers and 47 civilians also died in the war with almost 2000 troops wounded in the battle.

Suganob said militants seized him, along with other church workers, including children and adults, mostly Christians, when militants occupied Marawi on May 23. "We do not want this kind of terrorism to flourish or expand", he said.

General Carlito Galvez said in a statement issued Sunday that troops finally regained the Bato Mosque and the Amaitul Islamiya Marawi Foundation as well as the Jamaitul Philippine Al-Islamiyah buildings at past 5 p.m. on Saturday.

"We want to live another day; we want to live another month", Father Soganub said in the video while standing alone in front of debris and partially burned buildings.

President Rodrigo Duterte has deployed thousands of troops and imposed martial law across the southern third of the country to deal with the crisis, while the military has launched a US-backed air campaign against the militants.

Some hostages who escaped or were rescued said the militants forced them to convert to Islam, cook food and carry wounded fighters.

"The Armed Forces of the Philippines will press on relentlessly until conclusion", Gen Ano said.

This developed as Colonel Romeo Brawner, the deputy head of Joint Task Force Marawi, disclosed that some Maute terrorists have responded favourably to the military's appeal that they surrender.

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