AFP still verifying alleged rescue of Fr. Suganob

Philippine military rescues Marawi's captive vicar-general

AFP still verifying alleged rescue of Fr. Suganob

The military on Sunday said it is still verifying reports that Catholic priest Father Teresito "Chito" Suganob, the vicar general of Marawi and another have been successfully rescued by government troops in the main battle area (MBA) inside Marawi City.

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.

Recently, Suganob and other hostages appeared in a video released by the terrorists in which they appealed to the government to stop their aerial bombings particularly in Marawi's central business district.

Photographs showing Father Soganub slumped against a wall were circulated on the internet.

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

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Father Teresito "Chito" Suganob was held hostage for nearly four months in besieged Marawi.

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

Accounts from hostages who either escaped or were rescued said the militants had forced them to convert to Islam, carry wounded fighters to mosques, and the women to marry militants.

Suganob was recovered after military troops seized the mosque, the military said.

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.

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"If they surrender we will not shoot them".

Fighting between state troops and Islamic State-linked terrorists have been raging for almost four months in Marawi, leaving at least 845 dead, majority terrorists, and hundreds of thousands displaced.

Militants fled the Bato Mosque which the militants were using as a control centre after a fierce five-hour battle.

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

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.

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A large part of Marawi has been destroyed in the fighting.

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