Military rescues Catholic priest held hostage by Marawi terrorists

Military rescues Catholic priest held hostage by Marawi terrorists

Military rescues Catholic priest held hostage by Marawi terrorists

Military chief of staff Gen Eduardo Ano described the seizure of the mosque as an "enormous" military gain because it served as a battle command centre of the militants.

"As follow up and clearing operations continue, we expect the enemy to yield more previously occupied positions", he added.

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. "We are ready for that".

The Duterte government is concerned that Daesh, which has sustained heavy losses fighting the governments of Iraq and Syria in the Middle East, is looking to establish a Southeast Asian base in the Philippines.

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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.

About 1,500 IEDs had so far been recovered by the 54th Engineering Brigade, and, with the help of other security units, the Army Engineers continued to create safe areas in the city which were free from Maute munitions, debris, and criminal organizations.

Marine Colonel Edgard Arevalo, the military spokesman, refused to give additional details on the rescue so as not to jeopardise the lives of soldiers and the remaining hostages.

"It's very important that we get their leaders so there will be no repeat of what happened in Marawi".

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However Dureza said no other information has been provided regarding the rescue.

Suganob escaped on Saturday evening after government forces reclaimed the mosque where the priest was being held captive since May 23.

"We do not want this to happen again in any other city in the Philippines", he said.

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.

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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.

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