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AFP still verifying alleged rescue of Fr. Suganob

17 September 2017

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

Philippine security forces have rescued a senior Catholic cleric held for almost four months by Muslim militants who have besieged the southern city of Marawi.

Philippine forces have held back launching a full-scale attack on rebel strongholds, fearing for the lives of Father Soganub and several hundred other hostages.

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

A Maute gunman was also killed in the offensive a day earlier, September 16.

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"The seizure of another historical mosque and key Maute strongholds is a big blow for the remaining members of Maute and Abu Sayyaf", he said.

WestMinCom spokesperson Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay said the death toll among government forces has reached 149. "The Maute terrorists now force their hostages, especially the male hostages to fight with the troops".

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

Some 600 terrorists have been killed since May 23 when the Maute Group attacked Marawi and took over some government buildings, hospitals, schools and banks.

Año urged the remaining Maute gunmen, as well as former hostages turned fighters, to surrender "while they still have time".

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Dureza said this is the second grand mosque in Marawi that has been taken by government troops. "The rescue operation is still ongoing", he said.

It was Dela Peña who reported that the Maute torched the Cathedral of Our Lady Help of Christians in the city on the same day the diocese was supposed to be celebrating the feast of its patron saint.

This image made from undated militant video appears to show Father Teresito Suganob, held hostage by Islamists in Marawi.

In a statement he posted in his Facebook account, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Jesus Dureza said that based on information provided by Franklin M. Quijano, Father Suganob, together with another hostage, was rescued by troops near Bato mosque at about 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

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AFP still verifying alleged rescue of Fr. Suganob