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Catholic priest, teacher recovered from IS militants in Marawi City

17 Septembre 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 Bato Ali Mosque is the third worship site in Marawi City that combined police and military contingents have reclaimed from Maute gunmen since early September. With fewer fighters, the militants have forced some of their hostages to join the fighting and have resorted to improvised bombs and booby traps to slow the military advance, he said.

In a phone interview with Rappler, Dureza said Soganub was rescued near Bato Mosque.

The siege has sparked fears that the Islamic State group may gain a foothold in Southeast Asia by influencing and providing funds to local militants as it suffers battle defeats in Syria and Iraq.

THE Maute group, blamed by security authorities for the siege in Marawi City since May, has started enlisting compulsorily civilians in an effort to increase their dwindling numbers in the provincial capital, Task Force Ranao Deputy Commander Col. Romeo Brawner has said. "We have to be very careful", he said. "We do not want this kind of terrorism to flourish or expand", he said.

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Since hundreds of heavily armed militants flying the black flag of Islamic State seized the city of 300,000 on May 23, they have engaged security forces in ferocious street-to-street battles that have left more than 800 dead.

"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.

Speaking outside the ruins of buildings destroyed in fierce clashes, Suganob made an emotional appeal to Duterte to save all of them, saying, the militants are ready to die for their religion.

In a statement, Armed Forces of the Philippines-Public Affairs Office (AFP-PAO) chief Marine Col. Edgard Arevalo, said they can not still provide any details in order not to jeopardize the lives of the soldiers and other hostages there.

"They now force the hostages, especially the male hostages to fight with them, " Brawner said on GMA 7 news program 24 Oras.

Catholic priest, teacher recovered from IS militants in Marawi City