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Philippine troops rescue abducted Catholic priest in battle

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MARAWI. Fr. Chito Suganob

"We have an ongoing rescue operation at the main battle area".

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.

Dela Peña praised the Armed Forces of the Philippines for its efforts to rescue Suganob and other hostages held by the ISIS-inspired terror group, Maute, who besieged Marawi City for four months now.

The police said Maute terrorists raped numerous women they held inside the mosques as shields to prevent military forces from closing in. 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.

The siege has prompted fears that Islamic State-linked extremists will gain a foothold in the southern Philippines.

At least two militant leaders, Isnilon Hapilon and Omarkhayam Maute, were believed to still be with the gunmen in Marawi, Col Brawner said. "We have to be very careful", he said.

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

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

"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.

They surfaced on social media where he sought the help of President Rodrigo Duterte to halt the offensive against the militants.

However, the AFP said they have already taken over the mosque from the enemy.

Secretary Jesus Dureza, the presidential peace adviser, said the Reverend Teresito "Chito" Suganob was rescued by soldiers who recaptured the Masjid Bato Ali Mosque, described as the terrorists "command and control hub". "The Maute terrorists now force their hostages, especially the male hostages to fight with the troops".

While the military presses airstrikes and ground assaults, the government has started to build temporary shelters for some of the hundreds of thousands of residents displaced by the siege.

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