Hostaged priest rescued by gov't troops in Marawi

Hostaged priest rescued by gov't troops in Marawi

Hostaged priest rescued by gov't troops in Marawi

After almost four months of fighting, Philippine government troops have retaken a historic mosque along with two other major strongholds of ISIL-linked militants in the war-torn Marawi City.

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.

A Catholic priest and a civilian held hostage by local IS militants escaped from their captors and recovered by troops from the besieged city of Marawi in southern Philippines where fierce fighting is nearing its fifth month.

Several hostages were reportedly last seen there, according to Galvez.

Meanwhile, four soldiers were hurt when an improvised explosive device that terrorists had abandoned at Bato mosque exploded.

WestMinCom spokesperson Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay said the death toll among government forces has reached 149.

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.

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

In a report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the two rescued hostages are Catholic priest Fr. Teresito "Chito" Soganub, who released a video in May 2017 urging government forces to cease the aerial bombings in Marawi; and Lordvin Ocopio, a professor from Dansalan College - a Protestant college in Marawi City.

Suganob was the vicar general of the Cathedral of Our Lady Help of Christians who was abducted along with the people inside his church when the islamic state-inspired group attacked the city.

The rescue came after the Philippine military said some of the militants had sent text messages saying they were prepared to surrender, after receiving promises they would not be killed and would be treated humanely.

Dureza said this is the second grand mosque in Marawi that has been taken by government troops.

The large number of militants and their array of weapons surprised President Rodrigo Duterte, who declared martial law in the south to deal with the Marawi crisis, the worst he has faced so far.

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